Theories of Personality 9th Edition

(やまだぃちぅ) #1

96 Part II Psychodynamic Theories

established himself as a congenial coworker, refrained from moralistic preaching,
and placed great value on the human relationship. By cooperating with their ther-
apists, patients establish contact with another person. The therapeutic relationship
awakens their social interest in the same manner that children gain social interest
from their parents. Once awakened, the patients’ social interest must spread to
family, friends, and people outside the therapeutic relationship (Adler, 1956).

Related Research

Adlerian theory continues to generate a moderate amount of research. For example,
some researchers have recently argued that using social media such as Facebook,
Instagram, and Twitter serves the purpose of increasing Gemeinschaftsgefühl
(Bluvshtein, Kruzic, & Massaglia, 2015). The most widely researched topics in
Adler’s theory, however, have been birth-order, early recollections, and striving
for superiority. Each of these topics can provide a potentially rich source for under-
standing various Adlerian concepts.

Birth Order Effects

Adler’s fascinating theorizing on birth order has led to an almost overwhelming
amount of research. Yet, controlled studies of birth order effects are not only difficult
to conduct, but often result in no effects at all. Imagine the many variables that ought
to be accounted for: the overall number, gender, and spacing of the siblings, and the
events and timing of those events that occur in families (moves, divorce, death, dis-
ability, to name just a few). Few studies can include high enough numbers of par-
ticipants and control for these many variables in a way that leads to meaningful
results. Critics have argued that for all these reasons, research can neither confirm
nor deny Adler’s predictions about the impact of birth order position on individuals.
In 1996, Frank Sulloway published Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family
Dynamics and Creative Lives, in which he presented an evolutionary argument for
birth order effects on personality. Siblings, he wrote, compete for an important and
often scarce resource: parental affection and attention. Children’s success in this
competition reflects strategies that impact their personalities, and our birth order
position predicts these strategic personality traits. Lending support to Adler’s the-
ory, Sulloway proposed that first-borns are likely to be achievement-oriented, anx-
ious, and conformist whereas later-borns tend to be more adventurous, open to
experience, innovative, and rejecting of the status quo. After all, they must find a
way to earn their parent’s love that’s different from their older sibling. So, “watch
this, mom!” is likely to be the later-born’s battle cry. Indeed, Sulloway’s historical
analysis found that later-born scientists were much more likely to accept radical
new theories when first proposed than first-born scientists. First-borns were more
likely to stick to conventional and already established theories.
A fascinating study by Zweigenhaft and von Ammon (2000) tested Sulloway’s
predictions about later-borns being more rebellious quite cleverly. The researchers
interviewed a group of college students who had been arrested for engaging in civil
disobedience. As predicted, there was a significantly higher percentage of later-borns
among those who had been arrested than among a comparison group of their friends
Free download pdf