I saw this on Facebook, it is a repeat of something I've heard all my life. People believe that second children are more likely to be "troublemakers" (or insubordinate) than the other children of the same couple.

Furthermore, it claims there's a "new study" backing this up.

A new study claims that second born children are more likely to be troublemakers

Is there such a research? Did it find something consistent with this belief?

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    second child trouble maker reporting in: mit.edu/~jjdoyle/BDFK_Delinquency.pdf
    – daniel
    Jul 23, 2017 at 19:25
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    Here is an opposing view: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4105693/pdf/nihms598434.pdf
    – D Krueger
    Jul 26, 2017 at 10:52
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    @daniel: Would you like to turn that into an answer. Pseudo-answers in comments are frowned upon here.
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 15, 2017 at 19:01
  • @DKrueger: Ditto to above.
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 15, 2017 at 19:01
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    @Oddthinking It wasn't intended as an answer, just a reference. I am more familiar with English Language & Usage where references are left in comments to help those who might wish to answer. I can delete the comment if it's an issue.
    – D Krueger
    Aug 16, 2017 at 11:58

1 Answer 1


In scientific research, it's important to build up a body of evidence before we can draw conclusions. Once we have enough studies, if we see that a few find a real effect of birth order on personality but the majority find no effect, then we should probably abandon the theory of birth order and focus on other things that can affect personality.

A quick review of the literature leads me to believe that in the last 5 years, psychologists have found a lot more evidence against birth order theory than for it. Here are a few:

I'd say personality is a lot more complicated than just birth order. One study doesn't a whole theory prove!


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