Stuck between footsteps: Life of a sibling


infographic by Neil Cathro

Elad Gov-Ari

Growing up with siblings can be tough, whether one is the bossy older kid or the adored baby. When viewed by a person with siblings, an only child is often talked about as lucky for not having any pesky brothers or sisters. A cattish older sister or an obnoxious younger brother can ruin a day pretty quickly. Despite that, having or being a brother or sister can have its perks. In a Huffington Post article, Dr. Gail Gross discusses how birth order affects a child’s personality. Dr. Gross said the eldest child is often thought of as a leader and is usually found in a powerful career later in life.
As the eldest of three, senior Megan Stober believes she has a certain responsibility toward her younger sisters.
“I feel I have a lot of responsibility,” Stober said, “It is kind of cool having two children who look up to you and you get to be their role model and help shape their lives. As they get older … you see that they’re starting to do things that you’ve done and that you’re a good influence on them. I think thats just a cool experience that you wouldn’t get to have if you’re the youngest.”
On the contrary to what Gross discusses in her article, Boston college psychologist Joshua K. Hartshorne states that there is no concrete evidence toward personality differences between siblings.
“Birth order definitely affects intelligence, with firstborns being (very slightly) smarter on average than later-borns. As far as personality, I don’t know of any clear, direct evidence. There are lots of studies that try to test the question, but most have problems,” Hartshorne said in an email interview. “Despite that, there is indirect evidence, which I mentioned in my article, which comes from that fact that people tend to marry other people of similar birth order and be friends with people of similar birth order. Since people tend to marry and be friends with people with similar personality, that might suggest that birth order affects personality. But we can’t be sure.”
In Hartshorne’s article, he discusses how the numerous scholarly articles and studies on this topic lead to nothing. Aside from the connection of birth order pairs, there is little to no association between birth order and these personalities, for example, eldest befriending eldest.
Freshman and firstborn Cassidy Viox discusses her relationship with her also freshman first born boyfriend, Cameron Fuller.
“Cam and I definitely get along well because of our personalities,” Viox said. “We both have the quality where we like to be in charge of a group of people. For example, Cam loves being part of the lacrosse team and helping the JV guys out a lot, and I love being in student council because I love having the sense of leadership and being in charge of a group of people, and so I definitely think we get along because we work together in the sense we’re both pretty strong leaders.”
Despite the lack of facts, people come to their own conclusions. Because of this, there are many stereotypes about middle children personalities, according to Psychology Today. These usually go along the lines of “forgotten, left out and resentful.”
Although there is no evidence towards it, patterns have been observed in these middle children. One of the most widespread patterns is that most kids do not at all fill out these stereotypes.
“Being the middle child has its ups and downs,” sophomore and middle child Nick Barnes said. “Since I have an older brother, I kind of had someone to look up to when I was younger. I also get to teach my youngest sister things and be an example for them.”

“It is kind of cool having two children, who look up to you and you get to be their role model.” — Megan Stober, senior”

Countless articles have been written on the personality of siblings. Some believe that one’s birth order can tell an entire story about them. Others believe it means little to nothing.
Despite what research shows, the most common stereotype about brothers and sisters is that the youngest is the most pampered and spoiled of the three positions.
“As much as I hate to say it,” youngest child and freshman Sidharth Kutikkad said, “the youngest is probably the most spoiled because with the first child, the parents are so concerned about not spoiling their child and making sure that they’re raised with good morals, that by the second or third child, if [the child wants] something, then the parents are like, ‘Oh, yeah, whatever,’ which leads some kids to be spoiled or self entitled.”
Drawing generalizations about a group of people based on birth order is a hard task that hasn’t yielded many results. Despite statistics, Hartshorne still believes these researchers cannot derive any clues to what an individual’s personality might say about him or her based solely off the order in which he or she was were born.
“There is lots of evidence that birth order affects how you interact within the family setting,” Hartshorne said . “So eldest siblings are more likely to take charge of family events. The question is whether it affects how you interact with people outside of the home. And that’s less clear.”
By Elad Gov-Ari
infographic by Neil Cathro