skip to main content skip to footer

A Phenomenon in Search of an Explanation

McGurk, Harry; Lewis, Michael
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Birth Order, Developmental Psychology, Emotional Development, Parent-Child Relationship, Preschool Children, Social Behavior


Fifty-two 44-month-old children were observed in a nursery school over a period of two weeks with peer and adult oriented behaviors recorded, and data analyzed in terms of the subjects' sex and birth order. Sex effects were as expected, but birth-order effects highlighted the second-born child as representing a distinct category. In particular, second-born children manifested greater dependency behavior than either first- or later-borns. The results are discussed in terms of the relationship between maternal responsiveness to attention-seeking behavior in infancy and later dependency behavior; i.e., parental responsiveness leads to less not more dependency behavior in later childhood. It is suggested that because the second-born child receives less attention in infancy, he or she later exhibits more dependency behavior. (Author/LH). (15pp.)

Read More