Eldest child more selfish than siblings: Scientists

Last Updated: Friday, December 11, 2009 - 13:46

London: Surrounded by problems and need a helping hand? Don`t ask your firstborn as a French study has found that eldest children are more selfish and less co-operative than their siblings.

Researchers from the Montpelier University, found that
the arrival of a younger brother or sister has long-lasting
impact on the eldest child`s personality, leaving them wary of
others and their motives.

"Shifting from only to firstborn status following the
birth of a younger sibling seems to lead the eldest child to
reduce his or her co-operative behaviour," they said.

In other words, the shock of finding themselves no
longer the centre of their parents` world dents their trust,
making them warier of people`s motives, The Daily Mail
reported.

Earlier studies have found that firstborns show higher
IQs than their siblings. This may be because they benefit
from having their parents` undivided attention at the start of
their lives.

But mollycoddling of the first baby also leads to
eldest children growing up to be more conservative, uptight
and anxious, in contrast, younger siblings tend to be more
easy-going, more unconventional and more able to cope with
stress.

The team also found that younger children are likely to
be shorter than their older siblings. It is thought that the
competition of brothers and sisters for food, attention, money
and love, takes its toll on growth.

Worst off is the youngest child in a family of three or
more, who, facing the fiercest fight for dwindling resources,
tends to be shortest of all.

The researchers asked a group of men and women to take
part in a financial game designed to assess co-operation. They
played in pairs and each started the game with the same number
of Euros.

Player A was asked to give some money to Player B. The
donated cash trebled in value on receipt then Player B was
asked to give some money back. The risk that Player B may
return less money than he was given, or even nothing at all,
means that Player A is heavily reliant on trust.
More than 400 volunteers played the game, including 178
firstborns, 48 middle children, 125 lastborns and 66 only
children.

Scrutiny of tactics showed that the firstborns gave
away 25 per cent less cash when in the role of player A. They
also passed less back when in the role of Player B, New
Scientist reported.

PTI



First Published: Friday, December 11, 2009 - 13:46

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