Studies have shown that environment is not the sole personality determinant. However, environment is not trivial and should be considered, especially
because studies regarding birth order have been shown to have some consistency. Firstborns have been shown to be more conscientious, ambitious,
academically oriented, conforming, conservative, inclined toward leadership, and respectful of their parents than their later-born siblings.
Stereotypes of Only Children
The only child is automatically stigmatized. When asked to describe personality characteristics of an only child, many people will respond negatively,
indicating the presupposition that only children are spoiled brats.
In China, couples are encouraged to have only one child in order to help curb population growth. These children, or "little emperors," as they have
been called, are generally seen as spoiled monsters. However, research conducted by Falbo (Brophy, 1989), a psychologist known for work in the area of
birth order, indicates otherwise.
Because only children lack siblings, they lose the immediate availability of others near their own age with whom to interact socially. In order to
develop normal social skills, only children must be exposed to other children of the same age through other means. For example, play groups can be
valuable for the learning of social skills. However, only children must work to win friends because family life does not provide them.
Introversion/Extraversion and the Only Child
According to Skinner's behaviorist theory of operant conditioning, only children would undergo conditioning to affect their behavior in social
situations. Operant conditioning involves the conditioning of behavior according to the consequences it produces (Mischel, 1993).
In this way, only children would be conditioned to behave in an outgoing manner, if they are to win friends, because they have no guaranteed familial
playmates. Said the pediatrician M. Kappelman, "Only children don't easily assimilate into large groups, and when they do they tend to dominate"
(Brophy, 1989). This conditioning would take place regardless of a child's natural inclinations toward extraversion or introversion if the child
wishes to make friends.
Ultimately, an only child's environment forces him or her to take on both characteristics of introversion and extraversion despite natural
inclinations to be one or the other. A naturally introverted child must show extraverted qualities if he or she wishes to make friends; likewise, a
naturally extraverted child must learn to show introverted qualities by being content to focus on his or her own thoughts when playmates are
I would very much appreciate any feedback on the issue both fron 'Single & Multiple childhood' Experiances..
My opinion is that' Only Children' develop unique socialization skills; however, empirical evidence is needed.
Mod Edit: to add link to the article. Please include your sources.
[edit on 10-12-2004 by kinglizard]
[edit on 10-12-2004 by Horus_Re]