Researchers from the University of California quizzed 384 families and found that 74 percent of mothers and 70 percent of fathers had a definite favorite among their children.
The parents were not asked to name their favorite child, but follow-up questioning of their children revealed eldest children were preferred almost across the board.
This bias towards first-borns affected the confidence of younger siblings, damaging their self-esteem.
The results stunned study leader Katherine Conger, who said the research had been aiming to prove the opposite – that younger children were often the favorites.
“I was a little surprised,” she said. “Our hypothesis was that older, earlier-born children would be more affected by perceptions of differential treatment due to their status as the older child in the family.”
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