First Born Children Are ‘More Intelligent’, Study Says

Older Children "More Intelligent" Than Younger Siblings

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by Lauren Smith |
Published on

Are you the eldest child? It’s time to put an exceedingly smug look on your face because science has decided that you are a teeny bit cleverer than your younger brother or sister.

A study at Germany’s Leipzig university polled 20,000 people from the UK, Germany and the USA, and found that elder siblings had a higher IQ – because they had to spend time teaching their younger brothers and sisters.

But before you get too smug, the difference isn’t huge. Scientists who carried out the study estimate a 1.5 drop in IQ points per sibling, the younger they get. In a family with only two children, the eldest won’t necessarily be the most intelligent in the family.

Speaking to Healthday, lead researcher Julia Rohrer said: "Teaching other people has high cognitive demands - the children need to recall their own knowledge, structure it and think of a good way to explain it - which could be a boost to intelligence for some firstborns."

Younger siblings are apparently also at a disadvantage because they have to share their parent’s attention with older siblings from birth, according to the study.

The news comes following another recent study from the University of Illinois of over 300,00 schoolchildren that claimed elder siblings were the more extroverted, agreeable and conscientious in a family.

The research also found that first-born children were less likely to have anxiety, but researchers have said that the findings aren't as concrete as they sound.

Dr Rodica Damian, postdoctoral researcher and professor of psychology at the University of Houston, described the study as "statistically significant but meaningless".

"The message of this study is that birth order probably should not influence your parenting, because it’s not meaningfully related to your kid’s personality or IQ” she said.

Interestingly the Leipzig study also noted that there were no differences in personality, such as an outgoing or reliable nature between the first born child and other siblings. So while you might turn out a tiny bit smarter if you’re the oldest in your family, it’s due to nurture, not nature.

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