INTRODUCTION Everyone has certain personality characteristics that are unique to that individual. Birth Order theorists are those who believe that those personality characteristics are determined by ones` position in the family (Morales, 1994). Studies have found specific characteristics that go along with ones` birth position. First-borns possess the most favorable position, due to the power and responsibility placed upon them in the family of one or more siblings. First-borns have positive personality characteristics attached to their position in the family, such as confidence, strong self-image and self-esteem. These findings have also been found in a study by Nyman (1995). Nyman had 139 undergraduate and graduate students serve as his participants. These participants were asked to describe characteristics of each birth position by listing three words that best characterized each position. The results from this study found that the first-born birth position was viewed as the most favorable position. However, their status is threatened when a second child is born. Later borns possess different personality characteristics opposed to their older brother(s) or sister(s) (Morales, 1994). They tend to be more relaxed, even tempered, and sometimes develop a sense of humor in order to obtain attention from others. Later borns especially the youngest child are found to be more sociable and friendly. They tend to develop skills such as accommodation and tolerance. They become more popular and relate well with their peers. Not only have certain behavioral and personality characteristics been found in certain birth positions, but also gender of the individuals in these birth positions has been found to play a difference in some characteristics (Nyman, 1995). First-born females have been found to be higher in nurturance and responsibility, where males ranked high in dominance and independence. Middle born females are associated with intelligence, and males with open-mindedness. Males being in the youngest birth position were found to be self-centered, insecure, and lazy. Youngest females were found to be passive. Only children who were males are found to be closed minded and insecure, and females are shy. Popularity is a construct that is hard to define as well as measure. George and Hartman (1996) are among those researchers who have studied popularity among fifth and sixth graders. They define popularity as the social position a child occupies within the classroom and among a group of peers. George and Hartman also studied children`s friendships so as to get an idea of how popular a child is among their peers. One part of the analysis in this study was to see if unpopular, average, and popular children differed in the existence of a friend. Results found that unpopular children were less likely to have friends where popular children did. Miller and Maruyama (1976) addressed the relationship that may exist between ones` birth position and peer popularity. Their method used to examine this relationship took a look at school setting measures of popularity in friendship, play, and school work situations to birth position among grade school children. Miller and Maruyama argued that later-born children develop interpersonal skills superior to their older siblings, making them more popular than first-borns. The results confirmed this argument that first-born and only children are less popular than later born children. In summary, the purpose of this study is to see if birth position is related to ones` perceived popularity among peers. The hypotheses for this study is that first-borns will perceive their own popularity as less than they perceive their younger siblings. The sex of the participant as well as their siblings will also be analyzed to see if same sex or opposite sex siblings has an effect on the way the participant views the popularity of the sibling(s).
The total number of participants in this study was 76. The total number of individuals that data was collected on was 208. Of these individuals, there were 111 females, and 97 males. There were 70 first-born individuals, 68 middle-borns, and 70 last-borns. The participants were college students enrolled in Psychology 101, and Psychology 200 classes. These students attend Missouri Western State College, which is a medium sized public college in St.Joseph, Missouri.
This study was conducted using a paper and pencil survey
The experimenter first informed the participants that the survey was voluntary and confidential. The survey was then handed out to the individuals who agreed to participate. The directions were read out loud and then time was given for the participants to fill out the survey.
RESULTSA 3x2 two way between subjects ANOVA was ran on the data. The first variable that was analyzed was birth order to see if it had an effect on popularity, the results were non-significant (F(2,202)=.837,p=.434). There was not a significant result when the sex of the participant`s siblings was analyzed as having an effect on popularity (F(1,202)=.095, p=.758). When the interaction of sex and birth order were analyzed as having an effect on popularity, a non-significant result was found (F(2,202)=.231, p=.794). There was a non-significant trend that participants would rank their own popularity (X=.296) as less than that of their siblings (X=.314), (t(68)=1.808, p=.075). When the perceived popularity of the participant was compared to their younger siblings the result was non-significant (t (39)=.531, p=.598). The comparison made between the perceived popularity of the participant and older siblings was also found to be non-significant (t(43)=1.695, p=.097).
DISCUSSION The results from show that popularity does not depend on whether an individual is first-born or later-born. There was a non-significant trend that participants ranked their own popularity as less than that of their siblings regardless of birth position of the individual. In both instances of comparing the popularity of the participant to their older and younger siblings the result was non-significant. This result shows that there was not a difference between participant`s popularity and the popularity of older and younger siblings. When sex and birth order of individuals in a family were analyzed, the interaction of these variables had a non-significant effect on popularity. Whether or not the siblings were of the same sex of the participant had no effect on the perceived popularity of those individuals. The results of this study do not conform to previous research done by Nyman (1995) and the research with characteristics and birth order. The results also do not conform with Miller and Maruyama (1976) and their research with one`s birth position and peer popularity. The findings from this study can not be generalized due to the fact that popularity is a construct hard to define. Popularity can take on many different meanings therefore making it hard for individuals to rank themselves and sibling(s) according to a popularity scale. Without the scale that was provided on the survey, an individual would have different opinions on what exactly popularity is. Further research should be done where a survey is given to two or more individuals of the same family. This research would allow comparisons to be made between family members thus yielding more accurate data.
REFERENCES George, T., Hartman, D. (1996). Friendship networks of unpopular, average, and popular children. Child Development, 67, 2301-2316. Miller, N., Maruyama, G. (1976). Ordinal position and peer popularity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 33, 123-131. Morales, C.A. (1994). Birth order theory. A case for cooperative learning. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 21, 246-249. Nyman, L. (1995). The identification of birth order personality attributes. Journal of Psychology, 129, 51-59.
APPENDIX Please fill out all sections of the questionnaire. Rank your own and your brothers/sisters popularity according to the scale below by writing in the number that corresponds with your answer in the blank provided.For the purpose of this study popularity will be defined. To be popular means having many friends, and being able to make friends easily. People are popular if they attract others not just with physical characteristics, but with positive personality characteristics as well. To be popular means that a person likes to be involved in group activities where that person is liked by the other members of the group.
Scale:1 Not Popular This person has no friends and does not easily make friends. This person has no positive or attractive characteristics, nor do they like to be involved in any group activities.2 Somewhat PopularThis person has few friends, and it is difficult for them to make friends. This person has a few positive and attractive characteristics, and is involved in a few group activities.3 PopularThis person has many friends, and is able to make friends. This person has some positive and attractive characteristics, and is involved some group activities.4 Very PopularThis person has many friends, and has no problem making new friends. This person has many positive and attractive characteristics, and is involved in many group activities.Your InformationSex _____ Age______ Race______________ Popularity (1-4)______Brother/Sister #1 Sex______ Age______ Popularity(1-4)______Brother/Sister #2 Sex______ Age______ Popularity(1-4)______
Brother/Sister #3 Sex______ Age______ Popularity(1-4)______
Brother/Sister #4 Sex______ Age______ Popularity(1-4)______
Brother/Sister #5 Sex______ Age______ Popularity(1-4)______
Brother/Sister #6 Sex______ Age______ Popularity(1-4)______
Brother/Sister #7 Sex______ Age______ Popularity(1-4)______