Born First, Born Smarter is the title of an article of a study conducted by Robert Zajonc and Gregory Markus in 1975 (Zajonc and Markus, 1975). The researchers planned to study why previous research had concluded birth order in a family relate to definite characteristics (Zajonc and Markus, 1975). Several studies found out that first-born child tend to be less reckless, more verbally articulate, better performing in school, more active, more likely to go to school, and tend to exhibit a greater aspiration to achieve (Zajonc and Markus, 1975). They also found that first-born children tend to score higher on tests of aptitude and intelligence than second born and those born later. An aspects that the researchers considered was the environmental differences that first-borns and second-born experience when they are born. It is however imperative to acknowledge that these results are general, and do not apply to every of every family. One consistent findings of the study are general to birth order and intelligence. First-borns are more intellectually developed than their later siblings are. The big concern among social and behavioral scientists is the reason for this trend. One possible answer to the question is genetic composition that changes with birth order resulting from biological factors such as age of the mother. However, scientists maintain that the explanations should build on a more “nature” theory than “nature”, because studies have proven that environments in which children grow exert immense influence on their intellectual abilities.
One of the things that the researchers considered was the environmental differences in the development of all children. The first-borns are only to find two parents, while the second-born enters into a world with two parents and a child. This clearly illuminates different environmental conditions experienced by both children. Building on this premise, the authors advanced a theory that explained the relationship between birth order in a family and intelligence (Zajonc and Markus, 1975). Many contend that the research is quite unique due to the fact that the authors did not get in touch with with the subjects or requested subject to participate in anything. Instead, the researchers used the theory from past research to a set data from the work of other researchers, Belmont and Marolla. Belmont and Marolla conducted a research designed to study the effects of malnutrition on the intellectual ability of children born at the end of World War II, using 350,000 males aged 19 participated in an intelligence test, called “raven” tests (Zajonc and Markus, 1975).
I am of the opinion that the researchers did a good job in conducting their research. The research seems ethical because the researchers had access to a wide sample to produce reliable findings. I personally agree with the findings from the study. My elder brother constantly chose technical subjects, performed exceptionally well, and received excellent grades. My sister is the second born and she is more like our first-born, and she always seek academic help from him. I am the last-born and I had average grades through school, mostly scoring B’s and only a few A’s. The findings of Zajonc and Markus reflect what I see in my family. However, the authors failed to evaluate how people are inspired. While older siblings may prove more intelligent, this does not mean that they are hard working and motivated than the younger siblings.
Zajonc, Robert B., and Gregory B. Markus. Birth Order and Intellectual Development. Psychological Review 82 (1975):74-88.