AuthorLOHMAN, JOYCE FLEUR SCOTT.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractBirth-order and sibling differences in the subjective perception of personality traits were studied in 170 children and adults. Based on Adlerian psychology theory, it was hypothesized that siblings see themselves as different on various personality traits, that the psychological position a child identifies with does not always correspond with birth-order, and that perceived traits are more closely related to psychological position than to birth-order. The 170 subjects studied included 30 families with either three boys or three girls and 40 families with either two boys or two girls. All were between the ages of 11 and 25. Additional variables explored in this study were sex of child, socioeconomic level of family, and family size. A semantic differential scale and a modification of an Adlerian family constellation form were used to examine the differences among siblings in their perception of traits and their association with both birth-order and psychological position. A subsample was retested after two weeks. Repeated scores occurred within (+OR-) one unit 73 to 80% of the time. The majority of children studied felt different from their siblings and in most cases identified from 10% to 30% of the traits where differences were perceived as large. As hypothesized, psychological position was not always the same as birth-order especially for second and third children. Of the 30 middle children, 15 felt squeezed, 6 felt like psychological eldest and 3 felt like strivers. For third-born children, 14 felt like youngest, and 10 felt like they had gone ahead of the second child. Most of the first-born children (80%) were also psychologically first. Significant differences among psychological positions and perceived traits were found among sibling comparisons. Socioeconomic level and sex were found to influence the relation of birth-order and psychological position to self and sibling perception on various traits, but only to a limited extent.
Degree ProgramCounseling and Guidance