Psychological birth order and theoretical orientation of professional psychologists

Heather A Knox, Tennessee State University


This study focused on identifying a predictor (psychological birth order) and moderators (e.g., gender, attachment style) for early career psychologist's choice of theoretical orientation (N = 175). The purpose of the study was two-fold, in that if psychological birth order is identified as a significant predictor of theoretical orientation, training programs would need to review the process of how training occurs and encourage awareness of this unconscious self-selection. Additionally, awareness of the cultural pressure of one's birth order would encourage clinicians to not only look at the impact of birth order on themselves but their own, potentially negative, stereotyping of client behavior based on birth order. Finally, the data could provide yet another alternative to understanding how a theoretical orientation is 'chosen' by a therapist. This study found no significance in regards to the role of psychological birth order in the selection of theoretical orientation. The significant findings in the current study demonstrated responses suggesting, that (1) ordinal first born's responded less like psychological first born's than the other birth orders and (2) that ordinal youngest born's were less likely to respond in ways deemed typical of psychological middle born's than the other birth orders. There were also significant findings between adhering to a secure attachment style and the psychological middle born. No other significant differences or correlations were found. Implications for the support by past research for assessments, the concept of psychological birth order, limitations to this study and future research areas are discussed.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Heather A Knox, "Psychological birth order and theoretical orientation of professional psychologists" (2009). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3369439.