Being the older sibling doesn’t mean you’re more intelligent

A new study is fuelling your sibling rivalry

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Smug older siblings are not more intelligent than their younger rivals, according to a new study.

A new study by Psychology professors has bust the myth that the eldest brother or sister is always the most clever wide open.

Just because you’re the eldest sibling in your family and the first to go to University doesn’t mean you’re the most intelligent. A new study which suggests that the extra IQ point that birth order gives eldest siblings actually counts for very little.

The study was carried out at the University of Illinois, and Brent Roberts, the leading Psychology professor behind it, referred to the advantage being the eldest gives a sibling as “infinitesimally small”.

Roberts added comparing children’s developments generally is problematic, because older children can seem more responsible and focused just because of their relative age.

We asked some siblings who had just graduated what their thoughts about birth order affecting intelligence.

Mickey Harper, 21, from Devon said: “I think it’s untrue because the oldest has first time parents, so younger children will be handled by someone more experienced.”

Mickey Harper and his younger sister Lauren

Jamie Hodgskin, also 21, from London said he and his younger sister would argue a lot about who was the most intelligent when they were younger.

He added: “It was a bit of a competition and I sort of knew I’d win.”

His sister Harper said: “I got tutored and my parents worried about which schools I’d get into. But they’re far more relaxed now that I’ve been through it and now it’s my sisters turn.”

Jamie Hodgskin and his younger sister Harper

Elizabeth Herlihy, 23, from New York talked about the different kinds of intelligence and how important it was to pay attention to them.

About her older brother, she said: “I think I can’t even compare myself to him because we are just such different human beings. We’re both smart, just in different ways.

“You can compare height, weight, hair colour, anything, but a persons brain and intelligence isn’t something that is personally picked when you’re born. It is literally just how your genes match up to make you.”

Liz, 23, and her brother

Adam Fisher, 24, from London, said: “I don’t think my oldest sibling is necessarily the most intelligent, though she is the most successful of all of us and definitely has the most common sense and definitely has the best handle on her own life.

“I always think there’s different types of intelligence whether it be an emotional, people focused intelligence that my eldest sibling has, the type of academic intelligence that I think I have or the strange sort of applicable/workable intelligence that my youngest sibling has which makes her very, very difficult to argue with.”

Adam Fisher and his sisters, Clare and Chloe

Studies in the past have thrown up several bizarre ideas about what birth order means. These include things like the youngest child is always the most promiscuous, or that men with older sisters are far less competitive.