Human Nature

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 73–88 | Cite as

Birth order and relationships

Family, friends, and sexual partners
  • Catherine SalmonEmail author


Previous studies (Salmon 1999; Salmon and Daly 1998) have found that sex and birth order are strong predictors of familial sentiments. Middleborns tend to be less family-oriented than firstborns or lastborns, while sex differences seem to focus on the utility of kin in certain domains. If this is a reflection of middleborns receiving a lesser degree of support from kin (particularly in terms of parental investment), are middleborns turning to reciprocal alliances outside the family, becoming friendship specialists? Are there comparable birth order differences with respect to mating strategies? In this study, the impact of birth order on attitudes toward family, friends, and mating were examined. Two hundred and forty-five undergraduates completed a questionnaire relating to their attitudes toward friends and family as well as some aspects of mating behavior. Birth order did have a significant impact in several areas. Middleborns expressed more positive views toward friends and less positive opinions of family in general. They were less inclined to help family in need than firstborns or lastborns. Mating strategies also appeared to be influenced by birth order, most notably in the area of infidelity, with middleborns being the least likely birth order to cheat on a sexual partner.

Key words

Attitudes Birth order Helping Parental investment Sociosexuality 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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