Birth order research


Overview

To start with...

I think a good approach to birth order is to consider how sibling relationships are depicted in myths and fairytales or in the Bible (especially in the Old Testament). There are many stereotypes concerning the different positions in a family (e.g. last-born as "nestling"). Recall your own experiences. Perhaps you come upon an autobiographic account of a famous first, last, middle or only child.

From a more scientific point of view...

I would recommend to check first:

Ernst, C. & Angst, J. (1983). Birth order. Its influence on personality.Berlin: Springer.

This is a critical literature review, not up to date but it has been the most comprehensive so far. Even more important is that the most common methodical pitfalls are listed. Birth order research is by no means a simple endeavor, although it seems to be at first sight.

A more recent meta-analytic approach is:

Sulloway, F. J. (1995). Birth order and evolutionary psychology: a meta-analytic overview. Psychological Inquiry, 6(1), 75-80.

A recent book on birth order and creativity:

cover Sulloway, Frank J. (1997). Born to rebel: Birth order, family dynamics, and creative lives. New York, NY: Pantheon.
[Paperback]

Easier to read though lacking in methodical strictness is:

Forer, Lucille K. & Still, Henry (1976). The birth order factor: how your personality is influenced by your place in the family. New York, NY: Pocket Books. [out of print]

And as a classic:

Adler, A. (1931). What life should mean to you. Boston: Little & Brown.

Some recent developments seem to be:

Where to look for more...

Google

Selected Books: (in association with amazon.com)

(sorted chronologically in backwards order)
(new!) Kluger, Jeffrey (2011). The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us. Riverhead.

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Leman, Kevin (2008). The Firstborn Advantage: Making Your Birth Order Work for You. Revell.

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Cane, William (2008). Birth Order Book of Love: How the #1 Personality Predictor Can Help You Find "The One". Da Capo Lifelong Books.

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ABC News (2007). 20/20 Siblings: Relationships and Rivalries. ABC News.
[DVD]

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ABC News (2006). Nightline Cain versus Abel. ABC News.
[DVD]

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Payton, M.A. (2006). Birth Mix Patterns: Astrology, Numerology, and Birth Order and their effects on Families & Other Groups that Matter . The Left Side.
[Paperback]

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König, Karl (2004). Brothers and Sisters: The Order Of Birth In The Family (Classics of Anthroposophy). Floris Books.
[Paperback]

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Vaughn, Paul (2002). Birth Order: How It Affects Students, Siblings, Parents, Soulmates, Co-Workers and You.
[Audio CD]

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Lau, Theodora (2006). Chinese Horoscopes for Your Child: How Birth Order Influences a Child's Personality. Souvenir Press.
[Paperback]

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Leman, Kevin (2005a). My Only Child, There's No One Like You. Revell.
[Hardcover]

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Leman, Kevin (2005b). My Middle Child, There's No One Like You. Revell.
[Hardcover]

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Leman, Kevin (2005c). My Youngest, There's No One Like You. Revell.
[Hardcover]

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Leman, Kevin (2004b). My Firstborn Child, There's No One Like You. Revell.
[Hardcover]

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Conley, Dalton (2004). The pecking order: Which siblings succeed and why. Pantheon.
[Paperback]

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Leman, Kevin (2004a). The birth order book: Why you are the way you are. New York, NY: Fleming H. Revell.
[Paperback]

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Isaacson, Cliff & Schneider, Meg (2004). The birth order effect for couples: How birth order affects your relationships - and what you can do about it. Fair Winds Press.
[Paperback]

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Isaacson, Cliff & Radish, Kris (2002). The birth order effect: How to better understand yourself and others. Adams Media Corporation.
[Paperback]

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Leman, Kevin (2001a). The birth order connection: Finding and keeping the love of your life. Revell.
[Paperback]

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Leman, Kevin (2001b). Living in a step family without getting stepped on: Helping your children survive the birth order blender. Nelson Thomas.
[Paperback]

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Krohn, Katherine (2000). Everything you need to know about birth order. New York, NY: Rosen.
[Library binding]

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Richardson, Ronald & Richardson, Lois A. (2000). Birth order and you. Bellingham: Self Counsel Press.
[Paperback]

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Vogel, Elizabeth (2000a). Dealing with being the middle child in your family. New York, NY: Rosen.
[Library Binding]

Vogel, Elizabeth (2000b). Dealing with being the oldest child in your family. Powerkids Press.
[Library Binding]

Vogel, Elizabeth (2000c). Dealing with being the youngest child in your family. Powerkids Press.
[Library Binding]

Wallace, Meri (1999). Birth order blues: How parents can help their children meet the challenges of birth order. Henry Holt.
[Paperback]

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Leman, Kevin (1998). The new birth order book: Why you are the way you are. New York, NY: Fleming H. Revell.
[Paperback]

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Lieberg, Carolyn (1998). Little sisters: The last but not the least. Berkeley, CA: Wildcat Canyon.
[Paperback]

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Wagner, Hilory (1998). And baby makes four: Welcoming a second child into the family. Morrow,William & Co.
[Paperback]

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Sulloway, Frank J. (1997). Born to rebel: Birth order, family dynamics, and creative lives. New York, NY: Pantheon.
[Paperback]

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Somit, Albert, Arwine, Alan & Peterson, Steven A. (1995). Birth order and political behavior. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
[Hardcover]
[Paperback]

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Toman, Walter (1995). Family therapy and sibling position. Northvale: Jason Aronson.
[Paperback; currently not available]

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Stewart, Louis H. (1993). Changemakers: A Jungian perspective on sibling positions and the family atmosphere. London: Routledge.
[Hardcover]
[Paperback]
Isaacson, Clifford E. (1992). How to love your children: Birth order for parents. Upper Des Moines: Upper Des Moines Counseling Center.
[Paperback]

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Toman, Walter (1992). Family constellation: Its effects on personality and social behavior. New York, NY: Springer.
[Hardcover]

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Zweiback, Meg (1991). Keys to preparing and caring for your second child. Barron's Educational Series.
[Paperback]

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Isaacson, Clifford E. (1991). The birth order challenge: Expanding your horizons. Upper Des Moines: Upper Des Moines Counseling Center.
[Hardcover]
[Paperback]

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Lansky, Vicki (1990). Welcoming your second baby. Minnetonka: Book Peddlers.
[Paperback]

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Beer, William R. (1989). Strangers in the house: The world of stepsiblings and half-siblings. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
[Hardcover]

Toman, Walter (1988). Family therapy and sibling position. Northvale: Jason Aronson.
[out of print]

Hoopes, Margaret M. & Harper, James M. (1987). Birth order roles and sibling patterns in individual and family therapy. Rockville, MD: Aspen.
[out of print]

Wilson, B. & Edington, G. (1983). First child, second child.
[out of print]

Forer, Lucille K. & Still, Henry (1976). The birth order factor: how your personality is influenced by your place in the family. New York, NY: Pocket Books.
[out of print]

Forer, Lucille K. (1969). Birth order and life roles. Charles C. Thomas.
[Hardcover]

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I've done unpublished research on the following topics:

Birth order and eminence

Birth order and personality

Sorry, but there are no English versions yet :-). A short description follows:

The first study tries to put to a test the claim that first-borns tend to be overrepresented among eminent individuals. I used a sample of famous American women, checking for profession and sibship size. The only profession with a significant proportion of eminent first-borns is "physician". In trying to explain this result one could state that the hypothesis is meant to be valid only for male eminent individuals or that the studies cited in the literature didn't control possible biases.

The second study deals with the relationship between birth order and personality. The results are at least ambiguous because the method for measuring the personality traits seems to lack in validity.

Download

This one is my diploma thesis, at the moment you can choose between:

This page was last updated on Friday, September 16, 2011 by Matthias Romppel.

Comments? Suggestions? Errors? Feel free to send a mail.