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Sorry, kid, first-borns really are smarter
Birth order makes a difference when it comes to brains, personality,
study finds

By Rachael Rettner

updated 8/12/2010 6:54:03 PM ET

SAN DIEGO — Birth order within families has long sparked sibling
rivalry, but it might also impact the child's personality and
intelligence, a new study suggests. First-borns are typically smarter,
while younger siblings get better grades and are more outgoing, the
researchers say.
The findings weigh in on a long-standing debate: What effect if any
does birth orderhave on a person's life? While numerous studies have
been conducted, researchers have yet to draw any definitive
The results lend support to some previous hypotheses — for instance,
that the eldest sibling tends to have higher aptitude. But the study
also contradicts other proposed ideas, for example, that first-borns
tend to be more extroverted.
The findings shed light on the influence of sibling relationships,
which often receives less attention compared with that of the mother-
child or father-child relationship, said Tiffany L. Frank, a doctoral
candidate at Adelphi University in Long Island, N.Y., who lead the
They also suggest some inherent differences between siblings exist,
differences that might arise no matter what parents do. "While parents
might want to treat each child equally, it's almost impossible," Frank
said here at the 118th Annual Convention of the American Psychological

Sibling rivalries
Most previous studies on the influence of birth order have looked at
children from different families. For instance, some studies have
looked at U.S. presidents, Nobel Laureates or NASA astronauts to see
whether they are mostly first-born children or later born
children.U.S. presidents and science Nobel Laureates were found to be
overwhelmingly first-borns, as were 21 of the first 23 NASA
astronauts. However, these studies cannot take into account influences
that arise from children being in the same family, such as the
competition that might exist between siblings, Frank said.

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