Why You Are The Way You Are…

The birth order profiles below line up squarely with that of my two younger brothers and me.  The last-born was in fact “babied.”  The middle born is a mediator and has a career in municipal government (and usually wore the first born’s hand-me-downs and complained incessantly about it).  And the first born does have a higher IQ (and likely higher than the range outlined below). (Just wanted to check to see if my Brothers were dialed in…and I’m not interested in hearing that it’s birth order that was entirely responsible for the bad behavior.)

The September issue of Psychology Today summarizes Dr. Kevin Leman’s research findings.  Dr. Leman spent 35 years as a psychologist studying birth order and is the author of The Birth Order Book.  Research shows that birth order has a lot of influence on how we behave in the workplace and having the ability to predict someone’s birth order provides you with a competitive advantage in understanding how to work with the individual.

  • “FIRST BORNS:  First born tend to be governed by punctuality, structure, and power whereas last born are more comfortable with ambiguity and tend to go with the flow.  First born are perfectionists, reliable, conscientious, list makers, well-organized, natural leaders, critical, and serious. These qualities are typically attributed to mom or dad unconsciously placing the firstborn into a leader role by saying, “You’re a big boy now and you have to look out for your younger brother.” – like my mom used to say to me.  “Parents tend to pour their resources into the first born, ensuring that they have the best in life. Thus their IQ is 3 points higher than their siblings…In the workplace, first born and only children have strength in being known as straight thinkers, organized, and goalsetters.”
  • “ONLY CHILD:  Are very thorough, deliberate, self-motivated, black-and-white thinkers, fearful, and cautious. Only children never have to compete with siblings for personal attention, which makes them more confident and articulate; however, they struggle with the concept of having brothers or sisters resulting in being self-centered.
  • “THE MIDDLE CHILDTends to be a mediator, diplomatic, avoids conflict, loyal to peers, has many friends, and is independent. At work, they are skilled at mediating disputes, willing to work things out, and can be trusted with sensitive information.  Tend to be unbiased and levelheaded, leading them to careers involving negotiation – well suited for careers in management and politics.”
  • “LAST-BORN:  “Typically are manipulative, charming, blames others, attention seekers, natural salesperson, engaging, affectionate, etc.  In the workplace, they are able to read others well and know how to work well one on one or in small groups. They are caring. Always wanting to help, and are easy to talk too.  In the families with three children, typically and tender and altruistic, perhaps because he/she gets babied.”

Source: Psychology Today, Sept, 2011, Birth Order in the Workplace


  1. Wow! I agree this is bang on when it comes the characteristics – with one exception…I believe the middle child’s IQ would always test higher than the first born…


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