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Birth Order: Character Traits of Oldest Children

If it sometimes seems like older children were born bossy, consider some of history\’s most famous eldest children: Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, and Winston Churchill.

In fact, some of the stereotypes regarding first-born children have a grain of truth to them—they can be responsible, organized, and ambitious. They can also be famous type-A personalities.

Of course, every family is different and everything from a death in the family to a large age gap between the firstborn and younger children, divorce, blended families, gender, size and several other things can affect a child’s personality more than birth order, but psychologists have been studying birth order long enough to know that it does actually affect the way a person turns out. Same with the middle child and the youngest child. So while it\’s impossible to make too many generalizations, studies have shown that oldest children are often:

  • Assertive or dominant
  • Respectful of authority
  • Good students
  • Motivated
  • Leaders
  • Fearful in new situations
  • Mature
  • Dependent on others for approval
  • Self-disciplined
  • Confident


  • Journal of Individual Psychology
  • Birth Order.
    Psychological Science
  • Birth order effects on personality and achievement within families.
    Human Nature
  • Birth order and relationships.
    University of California, Berkeley
  • Birth Order.

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