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Birth Order

  1. Anthony F. Bogaert

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0132

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Bogaert, A. F. 2010. Birth Order. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1.

Author Information

  1. Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Birth order has often been viewed as an important determinant of personality. In the early 1900s, the psychoanalyst Alfred Adler argued that birth order influences parental care directed toward, and the dynamics among, siblings. According to Adler, firstborns receive a favoured position from parents. However, in multiple sibling households, firstborns must also contend with feelings of being “dethroned” as parental attention is diverted towards younger siblings. Middle-borns, particularly second-borns, may struggle with the feeling of inferiority as they compete with their older, stronger rivals. Last-borns may be pampered, spoiled, and may need to deal with constant upward comparisons. As a result, they may seek situations, including careers, where they try to forge a unique identity.


  • birth order;
  • siblings;
  • personality;
  • sexual orientation