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The FIVE Birth Order Personalities

Updated on June 18, 2012

Birth Order and its effects on personality has been in research for decades starting with the father of Birth Order Psychology - Alfred Adler. Modern day Psychologists who have delved deeper into this area have come up with some really interesting findings that are at times controversial.

Psychoanalyst Cliff Isaacson's research and findings are intriguing and raise well needed debates into specific Birth Order types. He has written two books on Birth Order: The Birth Order Effect: How to Better Understand Yourself and Others and The Birth Order Effect for Couples: How Birth Order Affects Your Relationships - and What You Can Do About It.

This is an opportunity to see if one of these psychological birth orders matches with yours as well as persons that you are very familiar with such as siblings, parents/guardians, friends and your children. Now the usual categorization of birth orders is First Born, Middle Child, Last Born and Only Child. However, Cliff has discovered that there are not just four birth orders but actually five. These five are: First Born, Second Born, Third Born, Fourth Born and Only Child.

You may naturally think that you are an Only Child personality if you are the only child, but this is not necessarily so. The fact is that psychological birth order and chronological birth order are not necessarily the same, because there are a number of factors that affect a person's birth order personality. This idea shared by many birth order psychoanalysts, and is an area that has continual study. The point is that there are exceptions to the typical, and there is no rule for birth order. The typical for each birth order personality is due to the common original challenges that a person faced in his/her childhood. It is a common belief that your birth order affects your entire life, and is a fundamental part of you that cannot be changed.

The First Born:

  • has the challenge of gaining the lost affection from parents when a baby brother/sister comes along, by waiting for attention.
  • is acquainted with feeling guilty thinking that it was his/her fault that caused a shift in parental affection.
  • covers up the deep longing for love by being tough.
  • is an over achiever and has perfectionist traits.
  • projects into the future and relates to things to the future
  • is strongly angered when disrespected especially by being overlooked.
  • finds it challenging to share thoughts and feelings.
  • intuitively understands only other first born children.

The Second Born:

  • has the challenge of overcoming the authority of the first born by being a perfectionist.
  • feels 'not good enough' or inadequate to parents and strives to please them.
  • is detailed, thorough and disciplined.
  • is diplomatic, preferring peace and feels overwhelmed by others' anger.
  • is strongly angered when criticized.
  • is moderate and likes things in balance.
  • feels neglected, suppresses feelings and can appear unemotional.
  • intuitively understands first born and other second born children.

The Third Born:

  • has the challenge of overcoming the criticism of the second born by being strong and aggressive.
  • is acquainted with feeling vulnerable and can be clingy.
  • is strongly angered when put-down.
  • thinks in comparative ways, giving rise to new ideas and even practical inventions.
  • is sympathetic with others who are vulnerable and very protective.
  • has challenges being cooperative with others due to having to survive by being rebellious.
  • intuitively understands first, second and other third borns.

The Fourth Born:

  • has the challenge of overcoming the forceful exclusion of the third born by being a pretender.
  • is entertaining due to the ability to imitate many personalities.
  • feels 'not big enough' thus isolated and has a desire for belonging.
  • is strongly angered when insulted especially when implied about not being mature enough.
  • analyzes things from many points of view and can come up with ingenious and balanced ideas.
  • has deep issues with trusting others.
  • is thoughtful, understanding and empathetic of others.
  • intuitively understands all psychological birth orders except for only children.

The Only Child:

  • has the challenge of playing alone, and because of the need to socialize may have imaginary friends in order not to feel lonely.
  • is a strong achiever.
  • knows the mind of imaginary friends and projects this unto real friends.
  • parents may be overly attentive giving rise to a feeling of being smothered.
  • is used to having space and can become angry if intruded upon.
  • is very aquainted with frustration and desires freedom.
  • works very well alone and has good organizational skills.
  • is not used to sibling rivalry and feels oppressed by others' negative feelings
  • has challenges understanding other birth order personalities other than only children.

Which Birth Order Personality do you think matches you the closest?

See results

We are all unique

No psychological theory can comprehensively describe who we are as individuals, because there are numerous factors that build our unique identity. Nonetheless, we may be able to understand ourselves and others better through them, and therefore improve relationships and parenting. Overall, each of us is truly unique and a 'one in infinity'.


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    • profile image

      Faye 10 months ago

      I'm a forth child and I think this amazingly accurate!!

    • profile image

      jack 5 years ago

      what about fifth born children.

    • profile image

      Chich 5 years ago

      Cliff Isaacson does not reveal which he is in the birth order....why not?

    • profile image

      3J 7 years ago

      I'm an only child. I find achievement very easy, many times without serious effort.

      I close my room's door often and really don't like it when my mother opens it at random.

      I really do work well alone, and I don't often see the need for team members. As such, when people get mad or sad, I tend to try to fit their wishes without complaint.

      Soon enough, I'll be out of the house, and I'll have the freedom I've been longing for since ever.

    • theblackedition profile image

      Shane Brown-Daniels 7 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Kerry, although we may find that there are traits that we have of other birth order personalities, there is usually one that is most distinct. The key is to focus on the original challenges along with the way of thinking.

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      Kerry 7 years ago

      Read this and OMG the 1st and second match mine (to some extenT)

    • theblackedition profile image

      Shane Brown-Daniels 7 years ago from Jamaica

      Hey Ivorwen :) Your unique situation is quite interesting. I am not assuming that your Mom was a single parent, but it is a reality that our parents (esp. single parents)highly influence our psychological birth order during challenging times. Another example of an exception from the typical is President Obama.

    • Ivorwen profile image

      Ivorwen 7 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      This is very interesting. I am the oldest, but I completely fit the profile of the second born, with my mom filling the roll of the first born in my life.