10 Studies About How Being a Middle Child Impacts Life

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There are many factors that influence our lives as we develop from children to adulthood, but how about our place in the family structure? There have been several studies done on this subject of birth order and how it affects people. We’ve all thought about the differences of the oldest child versus the youngest, but what about the ones in the middle of the pack? How does their place among their siblings affect them? Here are 10 studies about how being a middle child impacts their life.

  1. The Effect of Birth Order on Intelligence – This study done by Jessica L. Walton at Loyola University focuses on the affects of birth order on intelligence. It contradicts past research that indicated higher intelligence for first and last born siblings and has found a higher significance in the intelligence level of the middle born sibling.
  2. The Power of Birth Order – Time Magazine explores the effects of birth order on all siblings and concludes that the middle children get shortchanged. Family resources are more likely to be spent on the oldest and youngest siblings leaving the middle ones with little investment of time or energy.
  3. Birth Order – Frank J. Sulloway has done extensive research on birth order and briefly addresses the middle child in this study. He notes a consistent finding that middle children display lower self-esteem than their siblings.
  4. Birth Order and Political Rebellion – In this study Sulloway examines how birth order may determine a person’s propensity for political rebellion. Some psychologist claim the middle child tends to exhibit a more rebellious personality because they have a less established position in the family and seek attention.
  5. Birth Order, Sibling Competition and Human Behavior – In yet another study, Sulloway uses a Darwinian approach to how middle children cope with limited resources in a family. He concludes that these kids are more independent and are also likely to live further away from their parents.
  6. The Birth Order Book – Dr. Kevin Leman, an internationally known psychologist, wrote the book on birth order. He insists that the middle child is more likely to be secretive and feel isolated in the family. However, this does make them good listeners, negotiators and people pleasers.
  7. Birth Order, Educational Attainment and Earnings – This study by Jasmin Kantarevic and Stéphane Mechoulan indicates that middle children can get the shaft when it comes to education and earning potential. They examine the implications of being early in the birth order, especially in large families.
  8. Birth Order and Personality in the Workplace – Ben Dattner, Phd. did this study regarding the impact of birth order on personality in the workplace. He concludes that middle children tend to be more diplomatic and politically skilled. They are also good at negotiation, peacemaking and compromise while relatively closer to friends than family.
  9. Birth Order Effects in the Formation of Long-term Relationships – The Hartshorne study examines the possibility that middle children form more long-term relationships. This could also be because they feel isolated within the family and seek to fill that void with friends and marriage partners.
  10. Birth Order: It’s Influence on Personality – And finally, this study by C. Ernst and J. Angst concludes that the influence of birth order on personality remains unconfirmed. They feel any initial findings by these extensive studies have proven baseless and even misleading.

So there you have it. Being a middle child could explain why you’re smarter, rebellious and a good companion. It could also reveal why you always felt so unloved and constantly seek attention. Does your birth order really have that big of an impact on your life or does it depend more on the personality you’re born with? You can study the studies and draw your own conclusion.

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