Birth Order Term Paper

(The sheer number of studies on birth order is a testimony to the importance of this topic in psychology.)Taking his lead from the original birth order theorist, Alfred Adler (a one-time disciple of Freud), Stewart distinguished between “actual” birth order, or ABO (the numerical rank order into which you are born in your family of origin) and “psychological” birth order, or PBO (self-perceived position in the family).Right away, you’ve probably learned something useful: Your actual birth order need not have the same impact on you as the birth order you believe you have.

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Actual and psychological birth order can deviate for a number of reasons, including illness of one child, size of family, and degree of separation between siblings.

Your role in the family based on your age may not be same as the role you have come to occupy.

Then there’s the all-too-easy-to-ignore middle child, who feels robbed of the prized youngest child status, and perhaps feels rejected.

On the positive side, the middle child may also develop particularly good social skills in order to keep from being ignored.

Examining several areas of family life and sibling relationships, Eckstein and Kaufman tested, among other areas, what’s known as the “Confluence model” developed by Zajonc (1976).

According to this view, first-borns are the teachers, and later-borns are the learners.

Finally, the only child scale tapped those feelings of pressure (“I felt like I lived in a fishbowl”). Let’s see whether PBO trumps ABO, as Stewart’s model would predict. irrational relationship beliefs, perfectionism, and personality—in each case, the extent of the relationships with PBO were not overwhelmingly large, but they were measurable. Stewart’s study shows that we’re not fated to live out a life dominated by the accident of the timing of our birth.

You can’t change your actual birth order, but you can change the way you think about your role in the family.

For the only child, there’s the possible advantage of receiving all the attention from parents, but this is balanced by the feeling of constantly being scrutinized and controlled.

These brief portraits probably sound quite familiar to you, and they should, because they make up much of the stereotyped mythology about birth order.


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