Family

What being the middle child means for you

'Middle Child Syndrome' could actually be positive.

Malcolm in the Middle
Malcolm in the Middle

According to researchers, where you fall in the sibling pecking order says a lot about who you are as a person.

We've already heard that first born children tend to have higher IQs, youngest children tend to be funnier, so what about the troublesome middle child?

Middle children get a lot of stick. In fact there's such an expectation on middle children to act a certain way, that there's a behaviour pattern named after them. But are there actually hidden benefits to being stuck in the middle?

In their eyes, the oldest sibling gets all the glory for being the first at everything, the youngest gets away with a lot, and they're in the middle being neglected.

But a new study looking at how birth order effects levels of selflessness seems to have found a startling fact about middle children: they are more concerned about other's well-being than any of their other siblings.

Undertaken by the psychology departments of the University of Redlands and University of Arizona, the study suggests that middle children have the biggest hearts of all, due to the fact that they don't get as much attention as their other siblings.

“The differences in parental investment and niche differentiation that shape personality differences between siblings […] also influence[s] other social relationships,” say researchers.

“In particular, middleborns may be more likely to prioritize non-kin relationships.”

In addition to this, middle children share the beneficial trait of having realistic expectation, say scientists.

They're likely to be less spoiled than their older siblings, and more independent than the youngest, who is babied.

Psychologist Linda Blair, who wrote Birth Order: What your position in the family tells you about your character, says that your place in the sibling pecking order also impacts romantic relationships, and for middle children this is great news.

As 'family peacemaker' and with a talent for compromise, middle children make better partners as they are able to navigate tricky situations maintaining their position while also making sure others are heard.