Being the middle child amongst your siblings is often considered to be the equivalent of drawing the short straw in your family.
The middle child? Well, you’re not the ruler of the roost, but you didn’t have the lack of responsibility and worry a youngest tends to have either.
But there is a plus side to this, it turns out, as a recent study has revealed that middle children are more likely to be caring and selfless.
Research by the psychology departments at the University of Redlands and the University of Arizona found that the greatest increase in “prosociality” – behaviours intended to benefit others – is seen in middle children.
And that altruism isn’t just directed at those in the family, but the relationships outside of this circle.
The cause? It could be the subtly different ways in which parents treat you and give you attention.
The researchers wrote that “one would predict that the differences in parental investment and niche differentiation that shape personality differences between siblings would also influence other social relationships.
“In particular, middleborns may be more likely to prioritize non-kin relationships.”
So your friends could be getting an extra big dose of love from you.
It could change depending on how many siblings you have, too – if you’re both the middle and second child of the family, this is where the “greatest increase” in your self-sacrificing nature is seen, while those that lead the study wrote that the “rate of change decelerates as birth order and prosociality increase”.
If you’re one of three or more siblings, the idea that middle children have to be the most diplomatic and giving won’t come as too much of a surprise.
Sandwiched between a headstrong eldest and youngest sibling, you’re lucky if you can get a word in edgeways.
But hey, it’s tough having a pretty big heart.
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