Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Why Firstborn Children Are Smarter

Read this from Dinesh D'Souza

We are in an age of self-esteem, which is why only firstborns should read this article. It reports on new research that has found that the oldest child tends to be the smartest one in the family. Years ago psychologist Frank Sulloway published a book on this politically incorrect subject, and the latest studies corroborate his research.

In a way we are surprised to find out that eldest children are brighter. After all, siblings come out of the same gene pool and we might presume that they share pretty much the same upbringing and social environment. Still, the facts are that even children close in age raised in the same household are very different in many respects. One respect is that firstborns tend to be Numero Uno when it comes to brains. As a firstborn myself, I find this reassuring.
Eldest children seem to have IQs that are, on average, three points greater than those of the next smartest sibling. For second, third and fourth-borns who will no doubt write to inform me that they happen to be the smartest in their family, the term "average" means that this is a general trend and does not apply to every situation. By way of analogy, men are taller than women and it is no refutation of this general observation to point out that Eleanor is five feet eleven inches and Fred is 4 feet six.

The interesting question is why firstborns tend to be smarter. The main reason seems to be that firstborns get their parents' undivided attention, while subsequent children have to compete for mom and dad's time. This fact also has psychological consequences: firstborns tend to be conservative and believe in the system. Second and third children are typically more rebellious and also in some ways more creative. So when you run into guys like Michael Moore--creative but not very smart--ask if they are second, third or fourth in their family.

The new research also shows that when there are younger children in the house, the intellectual level gets "dumbed down" and therefore firstborns who share the home with other children are slightly less intelligent than firstborns who are only children. Asked what society should do about these findings, Sulloway answers, "Nothing." I agree. We firstborns tend to come out ahead and we'd like to keep it that way.

Thanks for the information Dinesh, it's reassuring, you're right. Obviously, I'm a firstborn too.

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