Is the first child smartest


Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is often considered to reveal brighter sparks. But along with IQ tests, many other studies have been conducted to understand our intelligence and intellectual capacity. A popular study that continues to fascinate psychologists across the world is whether first borns really have advantages over their younger siblings.

Researchers first examined the status of firstborns among Washington power brokers in 1972. “I expected that there would be a disproportionately high number of firstborns among members of Congress. And that’s exactly what I found,” reported psychologist Richard Zweigenhaft of Guilford College. Out of 121 representatives and senators included in his sample, Zweigenhaft found that 51 were firstborns, 39 were middle children, and 31 were youngest children. From corporate CEOs to college professors to US presidents and Supreme Court justices, firstborns do edge out later-borns. There’s even evidence that firstborn children are about 3 IQ points smarter than their second-born siblings.

A visiting scholar at the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California, Berkeley, Frank Sulloway sought to explain this finding. He reasoned, “When the second child comes along, the oldest still gets half of all that attention, so younger siblings never have a chance to catch up.” However, as noted, though results have shown a first child excels in life, it’s not all conclusive. Experts say it’s never entirely predictable how birth order may influence our personalities, behaviours or family dynamics – there are plenty of firstborns who don’t fit the mould. “I’m not sure I would say that birth order plays a strong role in who we become. But birth order contributes to who we become,” said Zweigenhaft.


With inputs from ANI Expert speak: Other side of the coin However, it must be noted that psychologist Dr Alka Chaubey thinks differently. She dismisses the theory altogether. She reasons, “Multiple ‘external’ factors play a role in shaping a child’s intelligence.” But one thing she is confident of is that the second child, in fact is more relaxed and has more chances of a brighter outlook towards life. She explains, “When parents expect their second child, they are more experienced about the birth and other issues, and hence more relaxed. Further, when subsequent children are born after the first one, they have a companion to interact with. These things in fact help the second child be more stable.”

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