Birth Order and Leadership

Essay by sniper786High School, 11th gradeA-, February 2005

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Is the eldest child in the family are natural born leader? This question has stayed unanswered since the beginning of time. Rebel, Frank Sulloway presents an all-encompassing theory about the ways in which birth order determines personality and behavior. According to evolutionary theory, sibling rivalry for "physical, emotional, and intellectual resources from parents" causes clear, consistent and enduring differences between siblings, which hold across cultures and throughout history. Chemers (1970) administer, surveyed 350 students at the University of Delaware, and hypothesized that because of their respective roles in their families, firstborns would be more task oriented and later borns would be more relationship oriented. There is other evidence that first born females are more likely to be leaders, such as Eckstein, (1977), who found that first born women were more likely to lead campus organizations at a college in Virginia, and Sandler and Scalia, (1975), who found no significant effect for birth order on the likelihood that men would be leaders in a religious organization, but did find an effect for firstborn women.

Unfortunately, none of these authors provide a theoretical explanation for why birth order effects may be more robust for women and girls than for men and boys. Birth order counts with leadership beginning in the home, says Viney. For now, it seems, being born first is best. Of British prime ministers from 1721 to 1992, most, 16 of 49, were first-born. Eleven were second-born, 14 were fourth and fifth-born; and eight were born fifth or later. In the US, 32% of presidents, from George Washington to Bill Clinton, were first-born. Traditionally, first-born sons were given preference for education as well as other advantages. But there are other factors. "First-born children enjoy the benefits of uninterrupted parental attention and learn from an adult model. Their younger siblings have...