When you tell people you're the oldest child in your family, do they assume that you're bossy and demanding? Alfred Adler (1870-1937) believed that our character traits and behaviors were derived primarily from development issues, particularly birth order, and these theories are still in play today (though some people believe that they're too simple and stereotypical).
More recent research suggests that other factors such as temperament, gender, genetics, parenting and environment must be considered. Additional factors that should be taken into consideration include step-siblings, half-siblings, what ages were the parents when the children were born, and how large the age gap is between siblings.
There are many variables to what makes you who you are and birth order is just one of them. Our birth order personality types aren't set in stone and change as we grow into our adult lives. While there may be characteristics of our personalities that stay the same, we shift away from who we were as children.
Here are some of the basic characterists of birth order, according to Adler.
Only child: They like being the center of attention, especially since they get about 200 percent of it. They're often spoiled, so they have difficulty sharing. They also have a tendency to be a bit precocious which turns to arrogance when they mature.
Firstborn child: They're overachievers who feel as if power is their birth right. They can be authoritarian or strict as parents, and can be prone to jealousy, anxiety and defensiveness. Famous oldest children include Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Oprah Winfrey, Rihanna, and Kate Middleton.
Middle child: They're known for being peacekeepers and are great at compromise. Because they're literally stuck in the middle, they're friendlier, faithful and loyal, and they're excellent at connecting with people both older and younger than themselves. Famous middle children include Kim Kardashian, Madonna, Bill Gates, Britney Spears and Kristen Stewart.
Youngest child: They're known to be very different from their siblings and are rebellious, attention-seeking and creative by nature. They have big dreams that often don't end up happening. Famous babies include Jennifer Lawrence, Harry Styles, Ryan Gosling, Robert Pattinson and George Clooney.
Adopted child: They tend to be spoiled, which can make them very demanding. They also struggle with self-identity, control and self-esteem issues. They're sometimes thought of as lonely but just enjoy their own company. Famous adoptees include Jamie Foxx, Steve Jobs, Nicole Richie and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi.
Your perceived niche in your family plays a larger role in influencing the adult you've become than the actual timing of your birth. Maybe you're a second child, who acts like the oldest child because you helped raise your younger siblings; you might be so much younger than all your brothers and sisters that you felt like an only child.