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For years, famous psychologists have insisted that birth order determines personality. We all know the stereotypes: Eldest sibs are bossy and perfectionists; middle kids are diplomatic (or rebellious, take your pick); and the babies in the family are charming and laid back. Well, according to a new study from Germany, there's no truth to any of it.
Well, except for one trait. Like many previous studies have, German researchers also found that first-borns are smarter. The higher IQs of oldest kids may have something to do with the attention parents can devote to them (they have bigger, richer vocabularies from all that one-on-one time with mom and dad). And maybe, as first-borns, they're pushed a little harder.
To come to this conclusion, researchers surveyed about 20,000 people from the U.S., Britain, and Germany. They asked questions about IQ, birth order, and five different personality characteristics: extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and imagination. Birth order only counted with IQ--older kids scored higher in intelligence tests, and IQ dropped the lower down a kid was on the family totem pole.
Even the researchers seemed taken aback. Said one: "This does not only contradict prominent psychological theories, but also goes against the intuition of many people."