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  • Is There a Connection Between Birth Order and Intelligence?

    The older, the smarter? We take a look at siblings and how birth order may actually influence your child’s IQ.
  • siblingsStudies have shown how birth order can influence a child’s personality, shaped by factors such as the treatment they receive from parents and expectations of them. 

    Firstborns, for instance, are described to typically exhibit leadership skills; while middle children tend to be more well-rounded, having great listening and negotiating skills. Youngest children are more inclined to the performing arts or sports.

    It was four years ago when researchers suggested the influence of birth order on siblings’ IQ. According to a study published in 2007 in the journal Science, firstborns may actually be more intelligent compared to their younger siblings. 

    The research involved studying 250,000 Norwegian males when they were 18 and 19 years old. The researchers then waited for their younger siblings to turn 18 and 19 years old as well before performing the similar test to ascertain their IQ.

    A second study conducted by the same researchers on 100,000 Norwegian males revealed that on average, firstborns had a higher IQ than their younger siblings by 2.3 points. 


    An angle that the researchers also took into consideration was how younger siblings assumed the role of the eldest or acquired traits characteristic of firstborns, such as when a death occurred in the family. Those who had lost an older sibling, for instance, who then received treatment as that of firstborns, eventually had similar IQs to the firstborns.

    Commented Frank Sulloway, a psychologist from the University of California, “The second-borns who lost an older sibling are becoming like a first-born”, with regard to the shift in IQ.

    How does this change occur? Psychologists surmise it may have something to do with how elder siblings teach or train their younger siblings, in a way, reinforcing their own learning. But more studies need to back this theory up with more data.

    Do you think that being a firstborn has any bearing on how intelligent a child is? We’d love to hear your views on this matter. Feel free to leave a comment below.


    November 7, 2011. “Eldest Brother Have Highest IQ” healthylifecarenews.com 

    June 21, 2007. Andrea Thompson. “Study: Older Siblings Have Higher IQs” livescience.com 

    Photo by Kelly Sue via flickr creative commons

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