Issues in Birth Order Research Methodology: Perspectives from Individual Psychology

Stewart, Alan E.
March 2012
Journal of Individual Psychology;Spring2012, Vol. 68 Issue 1, p75
Academic Journal
The author reviews Adler's (1927, 1928, 1931, 1937) theoretical position about birth order and its influence on belonging and fulfilling life goals. A typology of research studies using actual birth order (ABO) is developed, and the author then reviews some exemplary studies of each type of ABO study and discusses their corresponding research methodological issues and problems in terms of construct, internal, and statistical conclusion validities. The author discusses research in assessing one's perceived or psychological birth order (PBO) and focuses specifically upon the White-Campbell Psychological Birth Order Inventory (PBOI; Campbell, White, & Stewart, 1991). A typology of PBO studies is developed; illustrative studies are discussed and research methodological issues are reviewed. The author then compares the use of ABO and PBO (PBOI) in researching irrational relationship beliefs, perfectionism, and personality with respect to observed effect sizes. In each comparison, the effect sizes for the relationship between PBO and other psychological variables were larger than effect sizes when ABO was used. The article concludes with recommendations for the conduct of birth order research in Individual Psychology.


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