Digest of terms

birth order

the position of a person within a family constellation, in respect of sequence and family size. The claim is made that eg 'first-born', 'only child', 'younger brother' is likely to show characteristics which are recurrently common to others born in the same position. Though remarked cross culturally in folk tales, theoretical exposition is associated with Alfred Adler in the early 20th century and in later decades documented in Frank Sulloway's Born to Rebel. Degrees of achievement and of conscientiousness are examples of where birth order is supposed to make a difference, but the claim is contentious. A definitive conclusion is made the more difficult both by the number of variables involved and the fact that individual development takes place across a person's lifespan. The existence or otherwise of this factor in personality and behaviour is an issue for consideration in approaches to moral education.

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