Birth Order

Birth order refers to the ordinal sequence of birth for each child in the family. Some researchers identify five positions: (only, first, second, middle, and last), while others use four positions (only, first, middle, and last). Alfred Adler was the first theorist in modern psychology to note the significance of psychological birth order position in the dynamics of personality development. Adler recognized that the addition of each child to the family would have a profound effect on the family system, noting that the birth of each child would alter the interactions, roles, and responsibilities of each family member.

Although birth order is important, Adler suggested, the "psychological order" of the child might be more important than the ordinal position. The psychological birth order position is a vantage point from which a child perceives and evaluates itself and forms convictions about what is required to belong to society. The term family constellation is used to describe the family environment—the parents, siblings, and others living in the family of origin.

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