Are only born smarter on average

Personality Psychology: Firstborns are more intelligent than their siblings

He was a sandwich kid. The Austrian individual psychologist Alfred Adler was born as the second of seven siblings. He came up with the idea that the position a child is born into within the family has an impact on personality.

This theory is now almost a century old. So far, research has puzzled as to whether it actually applies. Psychologists from the universities in Leipzig and Mainz have now examined a very large group of siblings - in the hope of showing even the smallest influences on personality.

The new study confirms that intelligence, if it can be determined with an IQ test, statistically decreases slightly from the first to the last child. The naturalist Francis Galton had already suspected this in 1874 when he discovered that most English scientists were firstborn. Galton believed that the first child received special support from the parents and was therefore able to develop better intellectually.

Alfred Adler, the psychotherapist, was of the opinion that the influence of one's own position within the family on one's personality went much further. After all, the firstborn is an only child for a certain period of time and is pampered accordingly. Only when the second child is born do they learn to divide attention. The fear of being "dethroned" determines his life from now on, according to Adler.