According to a new study, firstborn sons have higher IQs than their younger brothers. This finding is more likely the result of the eldest’s social rank within the family, the study authors concluded, rather than biological inheritance.
The researchers examined military draft records of over 240,000 Norwegian men. They found that firstborns scored 2.3 IQ points higher than their next oldest brothers. In turn, the second-rank brothers scored 1.1 points on average higher than the third brother in line. The researchers only included brothers who were raised together.
This from a Reuters story on the study.
To distill potential biological effects from social effects, Kristensen’s team dug up the young mens’ family birth records and found families whose first-born or first- and second-born children had died before the age of one year.
Men who were raised as the eldest, regardless of their birth order in the family had IQ scores that matched their first-born peers. The same was true for men who were raised or born second sons. The research was conducted by Petter Kristensen and colleagues at the University of Oslo and reported in the journals Science and Intelligence.
The results led the researchers to conclude that the family environment, rather than gene pool, made the difference.
Various researchers have suggested that older siblings might benefit from a larger share of family resources, the process of tutoring their younger brothers and sisters, or from expectations placed on their social rank.
“Things like intellectual resources (and) stimulation from the parents to the child seem to be very important,” Kristensen said in a telephone interview.
This is depressing news. Poor Sasha! My little baby doesn’t stand a chance. I can see it already. All those books I read to Sage when it was just him and me with the whole day ahead of us. For Sasha? Not happening. I’m too busy watching Sage jump off the couch, again, and listening to him belt out “Mr. Tamborine Man” on his ukelele.
And all those walks where I’d stop to let Sage look at and smell the flowers? No more. Now I’m bombing down the street with Sasha hanging on for dear life in the stroller while I try to chase down Sage whose taken off on his tricycle.
On the other hand, Sasha gets lots of input that Sage didn’t have as a baby. Sasha has young kids around him all the time who talk to him and show him stuff. Lately Sage likes to teach him how to run a Hot Wheels car on the floor or how to fly a toy airplane and make it crash! Sasha loves all this interaction and I think he gets a lot out of it.
And anyway, before I jump off a bridge I’m suddenly wondering how much does 2.3 IQ points matter anyway? And furthermore, how much does your IQ score matter either? I don’t even know what my IQ is and I don’t have the sense that anyone in the world has ever used it for anything. I’ll try to read more books to Sasha and to teach him to stop and smell the flowers, but maybe I won’t sweat two lousy points.