Article

Folklore and the Only Child: A Reassessment

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Abstract

Two studies are reported: one examines stereotypes about only children and the other examines stereotypes about mothers of only children. A sample of 150 college students were the subjects for the first study which utilized the Prisoner's Dilemma Game, the NASA exercise, and a questionnaire to test the hypotheses that only children are selfish, lack social skills, are autonomous and suffer as a result of being only children. The only hypothesis that held up was that only children appear to be more autonomous. The second study interviewed 76 mothers of college undergraduates through a mail survey, providing information as to why mothers of only children have one child. Answers were given relevant to age, education, birth complications, and folklore beliefs. (MS)

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... The sample for this study consisted of the participants in an intensive study of families in four suburban communities in the Boston area (N uttal I & N uttal 1,1975). The 537 fam i I ies involved were white, intact, middle to uppermiddle class families. ...
... This is, of course, a very crude measure of autonomy and more precise measurements should be made. A study of younger persons has, however, also found a higher degree of autonomy among onlies than among others (Falbo, 1976). ...
Article
A quantitative review of the literature on the personality characteristics of only children was conducted to provide a baseline, archival resource on 16 different personality domains and to advance theory in the area of family configuration effects on personality development. This review combined the results of 141 studies and found that only children scored significantly better than other groups in achievement motivation and personal adjustment. The achievement motivation finding was especially reliable, persisting across several comparison groups. Overall, however, the review indicated that only children were comparable in most respects to their siblinged counterparts. The findings are discussed in terms of parent-child relations and socioeconomic factors.
... The sample for this study consisted of the participants in an intensive study of families in four suburban communities in the Boston area (N uttal I & N uttal 1,1975). The 537 fam i I ies involved were white, intact, middle to uppermiddle class families. ...
... This is, of course, a very crude measure of autonomy and more precise measurements should be made. A study of younger persons has, however, also found a higher degree of autonomy among onlies than among others (Falbo, 1976). ...
Article
Full-text available
There is considerable empirical and anecdotal evidence of negative stereotypes of the only child. The only child has often been characterized in terms of such traits as selfishness, egotism, dependence, loneliness, and unsociability. Research on young children has in general failed to find such characteristics related to the only-child status. This study was designed to extend knowledge about only children by examining a group of adults in terms of a number of important life outcomes. Data were obtained from a sample of 537 white, intact, married couples residing in middle to upper-middle class communities near Boston. In the sample, 70 wives and 62 husbands were only children. Compared with other first borns with siblings, and with individuals of higher birth orders, only children were found to have higher educational levels, higher occupational status, smaller families, and to be more secularly oriented. Female onlies were more likely to be working, to have planned their families before marriage, and to have been more autonomous in deciding to work. The three groups did not differ in terms of perceived happiness or satisfaction with life. They were also similar in their social activities and in the ways their children viewed them as parents. The data thus do not support the notion that only children are emotionally or personally handicapped by their lack of siblings.
Chapter
Only children are people who grow up without siblings. About 13% of completed American families contain an only child (U.S. Bureau of Census, 1970). Besides being rare, only children are widely considered to be undesirable. In 1950 and again in 1972, Blake (1974) conducted a survey of a representative sample of the American public to determine whether being an only child was considered to be an advantage or disadvantage. Seventy-six percent in 1950 and 80% in 1972 chose “disadvantage” in describing only children.
Article
This chapter focuses on the effects of sibship variables on child development. It reviews the effects of each of the sibship variables: sibship size, ordinal position, and sibling age spacing with regard to intelligence, achievement, creativity, personality, and health. All descriptions included are based on at least one reported research finding. An account of the development of the body of knowledge and the means by which it grew is provided. The effects of each of the above sibship variables, and their effects on creativity, health, and physical characteristics are discussed. Each and all of the sibship variables have effects, from simple to most powerful, on intelligence, academic achievement, occupational success, creativity, emotional control, socialization, health, and longevity. Even though they are derived from variously oriented and designed investigations, the studies reviewed in the chapter present overall consistent results.
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