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Family RelationshipsAn Evolutionary Perspective$
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Catherine A. Salmon and Todd K. Shackelford

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195320510

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320510.001.0001

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Birth Order

Birth Order

(p.162) 8 Birth Order
Family Relationships

Frank J. Sulloway

Oxford University Press

Sibling competition is a common occurrence in the animal world and occasionally ends in siblicide. Birth order often affects the outcome of such struggles because it is a proxy for differences in age, size, power, and access to scarce resources. Among humans, ordinal position is associated with disparities in parental investment, which can lead to differences in behavior, health, and mortality. In addition, siblings in our own species typically occupy disparate niches within the family system and, in mutual competition, generally use different tactics based on age, size, and sex. These alternative strategies and life experiences have effects on personality and also foster differences in attitudes, motivations, and sentiments about the family.

Keywords:   siblicide, ordinal position, parental investment, family sentiment

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