Birth Order Traits Are Basically Bunk

A study finds no significant correlation between birth order and IQ or personality.

For all you second-born children of the world who feel inferior to your siblings — it’s in your head. Mostly.

A study of almost 400,000 high school students — the largest study in history to examine birth order and personality — found only minor differences in IQs that correspond to birth order: first-borns have one IQ point more and are predisposed to be slightly more outgoing. But those trends are so tiny they shouldn’t affect your life.

The results fly in the face of years of conventional wisdom about how deterministic your birth order is. Your relative age affects your family dynamic, but your role in a family, it turns out, isn’t your cosmos. “A … major problem with within-family studies is that the oldest child is always older,” a psychologist associated with the study said. “People say, ‘But my oldest kid is more responsible than my youngest kid.’ Yes, and they’re also older.”

Good news, siblings of all ages: You’re free to be yourself. Birth order has roughly the same effect as reading your horoscope and believing that changes are coming your way in the near future and that you will meet a tall dark stranger.

And hey, things could always be worse in your family relationships:

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