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Book Review : Why first borns rule the world

April 18, 2006

I have just read Michael Grose’s book, “Why first borns rule the world and last borns want to change it”. I found this book fascinating but then I do enjoy books about personality and temperament. I’ve added this to my list of favourite books which includes, “The Introvert Advantage” and “The Enneagram”. I think the reason I like these sorts of books is it helps me to understand why people behave the way they do. And it is not just other people I have trouble understanding sometimes I wonder why I act the way I do!

Early in the book the author explains his theory like this: “Birth-order theory works so well because we are social beings trying to find a niche in our social groups. The first social group we belong to is our family. Within our family we compete with our siblings for different places, positions or niches.”

A very brief overview, without going into the variations caused by parental influence, gender, spacing and other factors goes like this:
First-borns tend to be goal-setters; high achievers; perfectionists; responsible; rule keepers; determined; detail people; highly organized.
Seconds and middles tend to be flexible; diplomatic; peacemakers; free spirits; generous; competitive.
Youngest children tend to be risk-takers; persistent; outgoing; charmers; ideas people; creative; challenge authority.
Single (only) children tend to be achievement-oriented; conservative; confident; articulate; healthy in their self-esteem; inflexible.

In the book the author also explains the difference between temperament and personality like this: “Temperament is often confused with personality but the two concepts are different. Temperament has a notion of permanence and is more closely related to biology than personality, which includes a broader range of attributes. The Australian Temperament Projects distinguishes between temperament and personality: ‘There are no clear ways of distinguishing between these terms temperament and personality, but there is reasonable agreement that temperament more closely represents an inborn ‘style’ of behaving, something which is observable in early childhood, well before an individual has had time to amass enough experience to have formed a personality.’ Children’s temperament tends to remain similar throughout their lives, however it does modify according to their experiences”.

It is a great read if you are into these type books.

by Susan Barnes
10

Susan Barnes

~ writer of insightful posts about God and faith

10 thoughts on “Book Review : Why first borns rule the world”

  1. I agree a lot that first borns tend to be rule keepers. I agree the middle children are competitive. although i’d also describe myself as risk taker, challenge authority (Youngest child) and higher achiever and determined (oldest child)

  2. I agree a lot that first borns tend to be rule keepers. I agree the middle children are competitive. although i’d also describe myself as risk taker, challenge authority (Youngest child) and higher achiever and determined (oldest child)

  3. I have always bragged about being the President of The Youngest Club – so when I meet other “youngest” people I let them join my club so we can come up with ways to get back at our older siblings for all the torture they put us through!

    [ I’m joking… well, sort of. ]

    ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I have always bragged about being the President of The Youngest Club – so when I meet other “youngest” people I let them join my club so we can come up with ways to get back at our older siblings for all the torture they put us through!

    [ I’m joking… well, sort of. ]

    ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. The book, of course, goes into a lot more detail. One of the variations that can cause a deviation from the ‘norm’ is serious illness in the family. My brother, a first born, was quite premature and therefore in need of more care and attention than a normal baby. He seems to have picked up a lot of youngest born traits, perhaps as a result. In your case, Trav, your Dad was seriously ill when you were 4 and during that time you acted younger than you were so perhaps you picked up a few youngest born traits then. Also being the first born of the opposite gender means you will have picked up a few first born traits as well. I mean we are all a complex mixture and we don’t fit into nice little boxes but sometimes the boxes give us a bit more understanding.

    And Paul, first borns would complain that you had a lot more freedom at a younger age than they, so they are justified in putting you through torture ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. The book, of course, goes into a lot more detail. One of the variations that can cause a deviation from the ‘norm’ is serious illness in the family. My brother, a first born, was quite premature and therefore in need of more care and attention than a normal baby. He seems to have picked up a lot of youngest born traits, perhaps as a result. In your case, Trav, your Dad was seriously ill when you were 4 and during that time you acted younger than you were so perhaps you picked up a few youngest born traits then. Also being the first born of the opposite gender means you will have picked up a few first born traits as well. I mean we are all a complex mixture and we don’t fit into nice little boxes but sometimes the boxes give us a bit more understanding.

    And Paul, first borns would complain that you had a lot more freedom at a younger age than they, so they are justified in putting you through torture ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Youngest kids do get it good. They have elder sibilings to drive them around.

    My goodness Mum, that explains practically everything about me…still working out how i became so egotistical.

  8. Youngest kids do get it good. They have elder sibilings to drive them around.

    My goodness Mum, that explains practically everything about me…still working out how i became so egotistical.

  9. Fun stuff. I like this kind of subject, too. I find this and Myers-Briggs ring most true when they describe people.

    I’m a youngest, but with a big gap. So that means my oldest brother is a true oldest, my older sister was mostly a youngest (till I came along almost 8 years later), and I was sort of a mix between youngest and only.

    I like your analysis of how the variations work.

  10. Fun stuff. I like this kind of subject, too. I find this and Myers-Briggs ring most true when they describe people.

    I’m a youngest, but with a big gap. So that means my oldest brother is a true oldest, my older sister was mostly a youngest (till I came along almost 8 years later), and I was sort of a mix between youngest and only.

    I like your analysis of how the variations work.

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