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Critical analysis: Birth Order and its relationship with one's personality

Critical analysis: Birth Order and its relationship with one's personality

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Published by Michael Prants
Critique of moo2elyn's research paper of Birth order
Critique of moo2elyn's research paper of Birth order

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Published by: Michael Prants on Feb 15, 2010
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Birth Order and Intelligence
Much research has been revolving around this question. Debates on the relationship between birth order andintelligence are surrounded by ambiguity and controversies. Some believe that the older sibling has theupper hand; while others deem the youngest to be brighter. Yet, others have found no relationship between birth order and intelligence. Ee Lynn Wong a Malaysian honours student set about challenging this proposalin a local school, as no research on the matter in Malaysia had been conducted. Miss Wong hypothesised;that the younger sibling/s would illustrate a higher level of intelligence, compared to the older sibling/s.To test this hypothesis, 65 participants consisting of 20 males and 45 females, aged between 10 and 11 yearsold, in the area of Klang Valley were chosen to participate in a cross-sectional study. The ‘
 Kaufman Brief  Intelligence Scale’, 2nd Edition (KBIT2), was
administered to assess the participants IQ in addition to their demographic data. The demographic data included gender, age, birth date, race, position in family (birthorder), number of siblings and the main language spoken at home. The test was administered over two days, by conducting the test with one age group per day. The participants were placed in a classroom on thespecified date and instructions were given when the participants were seated. 40 to 45 minutes were given tothe participants to complete the intelligence test. All completed questionnaires were then returned to MissWong.Results found that there was no significant relationship between birth order and intelligence in the context of Malaysian children. Despite these results however, the last-born child was shown to have a wider field of knowledge (verbal and non verbal knowledge) compared to the other birth order categories.
 Birth Order and Intelligence
was written by Ee Lynn Wong, who was affiliated with University TunkuAbdul Rahman (UTAR), Malaysia at the time the article was published. This thesis was for her honoursdegree in Psychology, which she did not receive any funding for. Currently Miss Wong works as ahomeschooling teacher for an autistic girl.The majority of the references that Wong has used were published within the last five years. The ‘classic’references that she’s used span longer periods of time. All references are relevant and valid to the topic being researched. The research paper has not been published in any peer reviewed journals; however there is potential for a future publication, as the ‘paper’ was only completed in March 2008.
The study was conducted because Wong, saw that research examining the correlation between ‘birth order and intelligence’ had not been conducted in a Malaysian context before. Wong said, “
 I just wanted to find out more. I did it for the Malaysian people
”, (personal communication, 12
August, 2009). This study has been written in a simple layout allowing the reader, to understand the topic at the centre of the research aswell as the methodology behind the results.Due to the research only being conducted in a Malaysian context there are gaps in the research. However other researchers have filled most of these gaps with their previous findings. Wong suggests, leading off her research in Malaysia, that a larger sample group be tested, as she only sampled 10 and 11 year olds in oneschool context.
Though Wong did not complete her research on a mass level, her results do match those of previous massfindings. The outcome of this study will be helpful to educators as well as parents, in understanding thestrong points along with the limitations of a child in performing a certain task. By knowing these limitations,the child will not be strained to follow the footsteps and match or better the achievement of their moresuccessful siblings.In her paper Wong articulates the main theories behind ‘birth order and intelligence’, including Alder’stheory, which states birth order to be merely one of five major influences on personality development
(Stein,n.s.). She includes a framework in her paper, allowing the reader to see the array of literature on the issue, aswell as her ‘Statement of Problem’, which is stated under a subheading.Wong (2008, p. 10) directly states her research question as, “
 Is there any significant relationship betweenbirth order and intelligence in Malaysian children?
” By stating her research question so blatantly there is noconfusion as to what the aim of the research is, which further helps in the establishment of its purpose andwhat outcomes can be expected.Each key concept of the topic is thoroughly explained in simple terms, and laid out clearly at the beginningof the paper. This allows understanding and comprehension of the main concepts of the research, increasingits reader friendliness.The limitations of the study were given as a part of the framework, and were addressed in the report. Themain limitation that Wong saw was that the sample size used in the study was too small to make ageneralisable and transferable result. The study was only conducted in one school and therefore its resultscan only be applied to that school context. Another limitation of Wong’s research was the applicability of the
 Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test, 2
(KBIT2), as it also showed some cultural influence (a small part of the questions in the KBIT2 was beyond the knowledge range of Asians).Wong’s analysis of the previous literature related to the study is very thorough, and shows that while muchwork has been conducted on ‘birth order and intelligence’, none has been completed in a Malaysian context.Her analysis also shows that the debate on whether birth order does influence intelligence is continual, withmany researchers supporting the claim with their findings, while others dismiss it as merely a‘methodological illusion’ due to the variation in results from the different methods used (Evans &McClintic: 2002).
The data collection design used in Wong’s research was the quantitative research method. Using thequantitative method meant that Wong was able to numerically record and graph student’s IQ, allowingresults to be collected and analysed.The instrument used to gather information was the KBIT2 test, which tested the students IQs in addition totheir demographic data (gender, race, age, etc). Using this test over a tradition IQ test, Wong was moreaccurately able to test the student’s intelligence, in regards to influencing factors.The experiment was conducted over two separate days in an empty classroom, chosen to the convenience of the participants, school administration and researcher. The participants chosen were between the ages of 10-11, summing up to 65 students (20 males, 45 females). Wong’s decision to conduct the research over twodays, meant that no one was put out of place, and results weren’t cross contaminated, as both ages weren’t inthe same room at the same time. However the imbalance of the male to female ratio is of a concern, althoughno results showed difference between genders. Therefore the method of her testing was suitable, as itobtained valid results.

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