Expectant parents eagerly await the arrival of their bundle of joy, hoping that they will have the most beautiful and intelligent baby in the world. While parents might not have direct control over brains and looks, new research from a business professor at Washington University in St. Louis finds that parents can influence their firstborn’s creativity.
There are three factors that seem to impact creativity for firstborn children: the number of siblings he or she has; having siblings of the opposite sex; and having siblings close in age (less than three years apart), said Markus Baer, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Olin School of Business.
“In other words, just because an idea is original doesn’t mean it’s creative,” Baer said. “The idea has to have some practical value for it to be considered creative.”
In conducting his research, Baer had more than 400 individuals work in teams to develop ideas for solving a given set of problems. After the exercise, each individual in the team rated every other person in the team on how creative his or her contributions were.
Each individual was also asked to describe his or her family constellation. Baer said he controlled for factors such as age and gender and the education level of the parents.
“What stood out was that firstborns who had many siblings, close in age, and of the opposite sex tended to have more creative ideas,” Baer said. “Now that we know how firstborns handle hypothetical problems, it would be interesting to follow them and learn what kinds of careers they chose.”