Are First Born Twins Smarter?

Birth Order Study Claims IQ Connection. Does It Apply to Twins?

Are first born twins smarter? A recent study concluded that first-born children got better grades, confirming other studies that link IQ and birth order. But what does that mean for twins? 

The study explains that parents are stricter with their firstborns, describing a “more stringent disciplinary environments in response to their earlier-born children’s poor performance in school.”  Yet they become more relaxed with later-born offspring.

  As proof, they offer evidence that school performance declines with birth order.

As with other birth order characterizations, this simply isn’t relevant for most twins. As same-age siblings, their parents’ disciplinary approach is generally consistent towards both children, regardless of who entered the world first. With twins, who are separated by only a matter of minutes or hours, rather than years, there isn’t an opportunity for patterns of behavior to develop during that small window of time between births. For singleton siblings, who interact individually with their parents over a course of years, both the parental behavior and the child’s response to their parents may influence personality traits and shape their character.

While there may be a disparity in intelligence between twins, it is certainly not determined by birth order. After all, the birth order in twins may depend on how the babies are positioned in the womb, and may have different outcomes depending on the style of delivery.

(For example, Baby A may be born first in a vaginal delivery, but Baby B may be delivered first in a Cesarean section) Further, while intelligence is an important factor in school achievement, it’s not the sole determinant as to whether a child excels at school. Plenty of highly intelligent individuals perform poorly on the standardized assessments that evaluate academic performance.

And intelligence deficits can often be offset by conscientious study habits and hard work. 

This study prompted plenty of response - cheers from those first-born children who acknowledge this confirmation of their superiority and protests from their younger siblings, as well as a great deal of outrage from parents who disagree that their parenting approach lags with subsequent children. Regardless of whether the study holds true for singletons, the results simply can’t be applied to multiples. 

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