NZ Woman's Weekly

Birth order and personality

Research shows there are common traits shared by people, depending on the sequence they are born in their family.


Eldest kids receive undivided attention from parents until their sibling arrives, and are often given more responsibility. They may be more   aggressive, and feel pressure  to succeed, so they’re very disciplined.

Famous first-borns:

Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, JK Rowling, Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas.

First-born traits

• Conscientious
• High-achieving
• Serious
• Goal-oriented
• Leaders
• Conservative
• Determined
• Organised
• Responsible
• Confident


Middle children often find themselves between bright, ambitious older siblings and precocious younger ones. They are often adaptable, able to side with their older or younger siblings, and can end up being the peacemaker. They can feel ignored because their siblings demand more attention, and may look to friends instead of family for acceptance.

Famous middle children:

 Bill Gates, Madonna, Julia Roberts, Donald Trump, Michael Jackson.

Middle child traits

• Diplomatic
• Generous
• Outgoing
• Sociable
• Competitive
• Independent
• Realistic
• Rebellious
• Agreeable
• Good people skills


The baby of the family often gets the most attention, and if parents and older siblings are protective, they can be indecisive and uncertain. They are often creative, and because they know what it’s like to be the underdog, they’ll stand up for good causes.

Famous youngest children:

Cameron Diaz, Jim Carrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Mark Twain, Goldie Hawn, John Travolta, Marlene Dietrich.

Youngest child traits

• Charming
• Manipulative
• Affectionate
• Persistent
• Attention-loving
• Adventurous
• Irresponsible
• Easygoing
• Spoiled
• Frustrated


Only children are like first-borns, but with bells on! Like eldest children, they tend to be confident and high-achieving, and do well at school. Because they don’t have to share their parents’ attention with siblings, they can be spoiled and self-centred, and get used to feeling special. They’re good at entertaining themselves and can be very creative.

Famous only children:

Natalie Portman, Maria Sharapova, Tiger Woods, Robin Williams, Charlize Theron, Brooke Shields, John Lennon.

Only child traits

• Perfectionists
• Articulate
• Attentive
to detail
• Motivated
• Imaginative
• Unable to handle criticism
• Inflexible
• Possessive and unused to sharing
• More comfortable with adults than their peers

Did you know?

First-borns are more likely to have “intellectual” jobs in fields such as law, medicine, engineering or science, while youngest children gravitate towards creative performers, journalists or designers.

One Response to “Birth order and personality”

  1. elfhug Jul 18 2013, 9:52pm

    Hi, I’d be interested to see a study about how a change in birth order effects the personality. Like for example when two families join. Both my daughters have gone from being ‘The first born” and the “Youngest” to being both in the middle!

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