30 August 2022

Does your “birth order” predict your fate?

I read a study on the idea that your “birth order” – as compared to your siblings – helps determine your personality. Maybe not all but a good deal of it.

In fact, it could even predict your career.

First-borns were supposedly smarter and more responsible. They were more likely to be scientists, astronauts, engineers or – funny enough – rock stars.

Middles were peacemakers. They became authors, CEOs and politicians.

The youngest were fun-loving. They became explorers or composers.

That idea has been an accepted part of psychology for decades.

Yet it appears the idea is a bunch of horse-hooey. Or, at least, not as certain as it once was.

More recent research, notably by the European Journal of Personality, as well as a study of 377,000 people conducted by the University of Illinois, found little correlation between birth order and personality.

Now who knows – maybe new research not yet done will turn the finding around again. Outside of a true double-blind study, science tends to reflect the biases of the people doing the experiments.

But here’s my more practical view on the matter.

First, it pays to be careful about any “accepted” principle of human psychology. At the end of the day, it’s an idea. Studies may be done to test it, but rarely does it settle things once and for all.

It just means someone ran a test and came up with a result. Maybe it will hold up under review. Or maybe not. But we should be careful about accepting it as the absolute fact.

Second, human beings are complex. That’s why I’ve often been skeptical about any research that claims to organize any decent sized group of people in a very specific way. Every single one of us is unique in some way. We can’t truly be grouped like this.

Third – complex as we may be – the list of what drives us to do things (i.e. to buy things) is surprisingly simple. We’re all driven by the same fundamental desires: to survive, to love, to avoid pain, to get more, to enjoy more status etc.

Yes, the reason behind those drives will be different. The intensity of, and urgency to, resolve or fulfill the feelings will vary from person to person.

But they’re there. And to be the best marketer you can, focus on those. Base your messaging around these emotions.

You’ll connect better. And sell more.

About the Author

Brandon Roe is a direct-response marketing strategist, copywriter and best-selling author who has worked with clients in 8 countries and 3 languages over the last 20+ years.

He helps firms in the financial publishing and natural health industries use proven marketing to grow their sales faster.