This study investigates the association between psychological birth order and the levels of multidimensional perfectionism. The levels of perfectionism exist: adaptive, maladaptive and nonperfectionist. Birth order positions have developmental qualities that influence perfectionism; however, this study is more concerned with a person's perceived birth order, which may or may not correspond to their ordinal position. The intent of this study is to use the Psychological Birth Order Inventory (PBOI) to measure a person's perceived birth order position and determine if the lifestyle themes related to particular birth order positions influence the level of perfectionism.
Participants consisted of one hundred and thirty-six undergraduate college students enrolled in a psychology course in a Midwestern United States University. Out of this sample, 68% were women and 32% were men with a median age of 21 and an age range of eighteen - fifty-one. Each participant voluntarily participated and some received extra credit. Each received packet containing a demographic questionnaire, informed consent form, the Psychological Birth Order Inventory (PBIO), and The Almost Perfect Scale -Revised (APSR) to fill out individually.
The study concludes that adaptive perfectionists, maladaptive perfectionists, and nonperfectionist significantly differ from each other when compared to psychological birth order statistics. Maladaptive and nonperfectionists exhibited characteristics associated with the middle-born psychological birth order. The qualities of a middle-born include feeling surrounded by competition, necessity to be the peacemaker or arbitrator, and feeling less important that siblings. Conversely, adaptive perfectionists exhibited fewer characteristics attributed to psychological middle-born birth order than maladaptive and nonperfectionists. Nonperfectionists exhibited characteristics attributed to last-born or youngest psychological birth order. The qualities of a last-born include being the pampered baby of the family, having many competitors but always coming out on top, and having others do for them. Conversely adaptive and maladaptive perfectionists exhibited fewer characteristics associated with the psychological last-born birth order than nonperfectionists did. There were no significant results related to the first-born and only child psychological birth orders in reference to adaptive, maladaptive, and nonperfectionists. The authors had hypothesized that psychological last-born position would exhibit some sort of perfectionist qualities, however the findings did not lead to any conclusion.
No conclusive or significant data for firstborns and only children? I am now dying to know what category these two birth orders most often fall into. But I assume it is a combination of all three, which makes complete sense. Think of an only child, the way the parents raise their child will determine the level of multidimensional perfectionism. If the parents do everything for the child, the child will most likely be a nonperfectionist similar to the lastborn "babies" of the family. If the parents push to child to be the best at everything and try to implant the idea that the child has to be better than everyone else, maladaptive perfectionist behavior is likely to result. If the parents are not neurotic and manage to raise their child in a balanced, healthy manner, the child will most likely turn out to be an adaptive perfectionist.
The sample represented mostly Caucasians with only 5% of the sample representing African Americans and Asian Americans. A majority (68%) of the sample was female, causing men to be a minority. All one hundred and thirty-six participants were students in a psychology course, which may influence their perception of themselves and the questionnaires. No direct limitations were discussed in the study.
The study did not directly give much information into the perfectionist behaviors of only children, but did provide results for birth order positions that are unlike singletons. Depending on the interaction with the parents, each individual's results would be different. Roberts and Blanton (2001) reported that some children felt pressure to excel or succeed because they were the only child and the only chance for the family. This particular interaction may cause maladaptive perfectionist behaviors in some singletons. Roberts and Blanton (2001) also reported that some only children felt the undivided attention and the ability to get "anything they wanted, how they wanted it, and when they wanted it," caused them to become selfish. Depending on the individual experiences, this could cause any of the three types of multidimensional perfectionism. It is quite interesting to imagine the various possibilities, parenting styles, and interactions that could lead to the depth of personality traits found in only children.