Journal article Open Access

Associations between Birth Order and Personality Traits: Evidence from Self-Reports and Observer Ratings

Jefferson, Tyrone; Herbst, Jeffrey H.; McCrae, Robert R.

Sulloway (1996) proposed that personality traits developed in childhood mediate the association of birth order with scientific radicalism. Birth-order effects on traits within the five-factor model of personality were examined in three studies. Self-reports on brief measures of Neuroticism, Extraversion, and Openness in a national sample (N= 9664) were unrelated to birth order. Self-reports on the 30 facet scales of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) in an adult sample (N= 612) showed only small effects for Altruism and Tender-Mindedness. Peer ratings (N= 166) supported the hypotheses that laterborn children would be higher in facets of Openness and Agreeableness, but spouse ratings (N= 88) did not replicate those findings. Birth order may have subtle effects on perceived personality, but it is unlikely that this effect mediates associations with scientific radicalism.

Files (69.0 kB)
Name Size
69.0 kB Download
Views 945
Downloads 759
Data volume 52.4 MB
Unique views 820
Unique downloads 736


Cite as