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Birth order and adult family relationships: Firstborns have better sibling relationships than laterborns

Lookup NU author(s): Thomas Pollet, Professor Daniel Nettle


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Although middleborn college students commonly report worse family relationships than other birth orders, it is unknown whether this effect persists into adulthood. Therefore, we investigated the effect of birth order on self-reported family and friend relationships among a large sample of Dutch adults (n = 794). Middleborns did not differ from other birth orders in relationships with their father, mother, sibling or close friend. Middleborns do not prefer a friend over their father, mother or sibling more than other birth orders. Evidence for a "neglected middleborn effect" appeared only in a within-family design for siblings. Firstborns were more likely to report very good sibling relationships and preferred a sibling over a friend. The results are discussed in terms of kin competition and inclusive fitness.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pollet TV, Nettle D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

Year: 2009

Volume: 26

Issue: 8

Pages: 1029-1046

ISSN (print): 0265-4075

ISSN (electronic): 1460-3608

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/0265407509347940


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