In this study, a stratified and random sample of 88 subjects, from three different sections of Provo and Orem, Utah, were given surveys. The selected family income was below the median for family income in one section selected. In the second selection, family income was at the states median and for the third selection family income was above the median. Within each of these sections, families were selected at random and contacted by telephone. Those who decided to participate were invited to the Financial Counseling Clinic at Bringham young and then asked to complete the assessment instruments.
Only those subjects who came from families with four or more children were included in the study in order to provide for an analysis of the birth order variables. The subjects in the study consisted of 4 first born males and 8 first born females, 11 second-born males and 8 second born females, 24 middle born males and 20 middle born females, and 5 last born males and 8 last born females. The majority of these subjects were between 25 and 45 years of age.
As stated before, each subject was administered the assessment instruments t Brigham Young University. One of the questions on the assessment, which was seen as the focus of the report, asked the subjects to compare themselves to the perceived happiness levels of their fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters on the items of health, current marriage, current family, extended family, in-laws, friends, religion, financial security, and life in general. For these questions a seven point scale was used with one being the low score, seven the high, and the midpoint of four indicating that their perceived happiness was the same.
Since there was no other literature that compared one’s happiness with the perceived happiness of one’s family members this study added a great deal to the non-existent body of knowledge. The results of the study showed that last born males scored consistently lower than all other male birth order, except for the “in-laws” area. Last borns scored lowest and separated themselves out the most from the other male birth orders in areas of “financial security,” “employment,” and “life in general. ” Results showed that first born males scored higher than all other male birth orders on five of the items.
As for the women, last borns scored lower on every subject except for one. In addition to this, very different from men, first born females scored consistently lower than both second born and middle born females. One of the most important things taken from this study is the similar pattern of both male and female last borns. Both scored lower than any of the other same-sex birth orders on the almost all of the happiness scales. This finding shows that last born male and females are typically unhappier than their firstborn, second born, or middle born siblings.
The group contributed these findings to clinical observations done that stated last borns tend to be pampered and spoiled. They have been conditioned to people protecting, dominating, and giving them goods and services that require little effort on the part of the last born. This in turn makes it easy for last borns to grow up as adults who think people will continue to do this for them future. When the eventually become adults, they eventually face the reality that most other people will not pamper and they then experience cognitive dissonance, causing them to be last happy than their sibling.
In addition to this, the pampering could potentially have detracted from their ability and learn to deal with problems of life and this could contribute to their relative unhappiness. A second study dealing with birth order and personality can also be used to predict the possible outcomes as well. Empirical Studies Indicating Significant Birth-Order-Related Personality Differences provided a summary of empirical support relating birth order to personality characteristics.
This study focused on indentifying other studies that contained statistically significant results between personality differences and birth-order typologies and reported descriptive data in terms of variables that differ according to birth order. This research done by Eckstein focused primarily on articles dating from 1960 to 1999. All of the articles reported statistically significant levels at or beyond the . 05 level. Consistent with other studies that were based on Adlerian theory, empirical birth-order was grouped into the following four major categories: oldest, middle, youngest, and single.
Eckstein then goes on to present a table showing the common characteristics identified for each of the four types and identifying articles that indicated each characteristic. For the oldest child, or first borns, according to Eckstein’s findings, at least two researchers attributed each of 26 different characteristics to these individuals. The six most frequently appearing attributes were highest achieving, highest IQ, greatest academic success, highest motivation and need for achievement, overrepresented among learned groups, and most affiliative under stress.
All of these personality attributes can be used to relate to the findings from the first study, Birth Order and Happiness: A Preliminary Study by G. Hugh Allred & Bernard E. Poduska. The first borns of each family likely have higher levels of satisfaction due to these similar personality attributes. The majority of those individuals who are highest achieving usually are those who are most satisfied with their lives. This could be one of the reasons that the first borns scored the highest on the majority of question in the study conducted by Allred and Poduska.
At least two researchers attributed each of 6 different characteristics to the middle child. The three attributed that appeared most frequently were fewest problems acting out, sociable, and greatest feeling of not belonging. For the youngest at least two researchers attributed each of 14 different characteristics to those who were the youngest child. The four most frequently appearing attributes for the youngest child or last born were; greatest overrepresentation of psychiatric disorders if from a small family, empathetic, helplessness and tendency toward alcoholism.
The fact that both helplessness and a tendency toward alcoholism are two of the four most frequently appearing attributes helps relate to the first study on birth order and happiness conducted by Allred and Poduska. The fact that those born last are seen as helpless could be a direct effect of the fact that they were pampered and overprotected for the majority of their lives. This would then cause them to feel helpless in their later years when they are on their own in life without their family to pamper and always protect them.
This feeling could then be used when explaining why those individuals who were last borns scored lowest on the majority of the questions asked in the study dealing with birth order and happiness by Allred and Poduska. Using the knowledge learned from these two research studies there will be two hypotheses used when conducting the study on the relationship between birth order and life satisfaction. The first hypothesis states that last born individuals will have the lowest levels of happiness on average. The second hypothesis states that those individuals who are not last borns will have higher levels of happiness on average.
Proving whether or not these hypotheses are true will tell us a great deal about the relationship between birth order and life satisfaction and will help settle the argument on whether or not birth order has an effect on one’s life. III. Method: A random, convenience sample of 30 subjects was used during this study. Subjects were from various states on the East Coast and came from all different backgrounds. The subject’s ages ranged from 17-50 years of age and the majority of them were college students living on campus at Bryant University.
Only those individuals with siblings were sampled and those without siblings did not receive the assessment. The rights of each subjected were protected. Prior to their participation in the assessment each subject was informed about the purpose of the study. These subjects were then told that in addition to their rights being protected, the privacy and confidentiality of the assessment will be strictly maintained at all times. The results of each assessment were shown to no one during the study besides those conducting the research and will not be used by any other researchers in the future.
Throughout the entire study all ethical guidelines were followed. The results of each assessment were not tampered with or used against the respondent. All assessments were completed in the Bryant University library, but before being allowed to complete the assessment, each randomly picked subject was asked by the research whether or not they had siblings. Subjects who answered “no” were not given the assessment and able to go on their way. Subjects who answered “yes” to this question were then asked if they would like to participate in a research study on the relationship between birth order and happiness.
A statement on privacy rights was then read to each subject by the researcher to make sure they knew that results of their assessment would be confidential. Once this was understood, the subjects were given the assessment. The subjects were free to complete the survey on their own and had as much time as needed to fill out the assessment. Once finished their assessments, each subject handed their survey to the researcher and was thanked for their participation in the study. Once 30 assessments were collected the scores of each assessment was tallied up and the results were recorded.
The survey used was Life Satisfaction Index A survey from Measures of Personality and Social Psychological Attitudes. This index consisted of 20 agree or disagree items that correlated highly with life satisfaction/happiness. Each response received zero or one points depending upon whether or not the response matched the response marked in parenthesis given by the book. For example: One question asked “As I grow older, things seem better than I thought they would be”. For this question the response marked in parentheses was “Agree” and those who responded “Agree” received one point and those who responded “Disagree” received none.
Scores on this assessment could vary from 0 (lowest faction) to 20 (highest satisfaction) and helped show the life satisfaction of each respondent. In addition to the 20 agree or disagree questions, there was one multiple choice questioned used at the end of the survey. This question asked the respondent whether or not they were the: first born, second born, second born (last born), third born (middle), third born last, or fourth born (last) in their family. This question helped categorize the results of each respondent. The study has two independent variables and one dependent variable.
The independent variables are gender and both order. The dependent variable is levels of happiness. The design of this study was a correlation design and there was no manipulation of either independent variable throughout the duration of the study. IV. Results: Figure 1: As shown in figure 1, first born males had the highest average life satisfaction score at 14. 89. This was more than one full point higher than the 13. 75 scored by those individuals who were third born middle children. Second born middle children scored a 13. 7 on average which was extremely close to those third born middle children. Figure 1, also shows that the bottom three lowest scores all belong to those who were last in their family’s birth order. Second born last borns scored a 12. 25 on average, fourth born last borns an 11. 67, and second born last borns had the lowest average life satisfaction index scores at 11. 50. All together, last borns received a mean score of 11. 83 on the life satisfaction index which is almost two points lower than those who were middle borns and a full 3 points lower than those who were first borns.
Breaking down the results for women we once again see that first borns had the highest average score on the life satisfaction index. Second born middle were one point behind at 14, and right behind them was third born middle at 13. 5. The average score of middle born children was 13. 8. Once again, the lowest average scores belonged to those who were last borns. Those individuals who were the third born last borns had the lowest score of 11. 5, followed by fourth born last at 12, and second born last at 12. 5. All together, the last borns scored a 12 on average when taking the life satisfaction index.