Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Child Development and Family Relations


Child Development and Family Relations

First Advisor

Helen Greene


This study researched the relationship between birth order and affiliation in three social-help organizations and represents a replication and extension of a study done by Dr. Stephen Misovich in 1973. The three social-help organizations included Lean Line, an organization to help members to reduce weight; Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization to help members stop drinking; and 5-Day-Plan-To- Quit-Smoking, an organization to help members stop smoking.

Birth order is defined as the ordinal position of an individual among his or her siblings. "Only" children were defined as first borns. The size of a family was the total number of siblings in the family.

It was hypothesized that there would be a significant difference between the expected number of firstborns and the observed number of first barns in each social-help organization, i.e., significantly more observed firstborns than expected first borns.

Birth order information was obtained from one hundred members of Lean Line, fifty-two members of Alcoholics Anonymous, and thirty – six members of 5-Day-Plan-To-Quit-Smoking. The same birth order questionnaire was administered in the same manner to each of the groups with changes in wording suiting each organization.

Subjects came from varied social and economic backgrounds. Geographically, subjects were in attendance at meetings in the New London, Connecticut general vicinity.

Both males and females were subjects in the study. The mean age for Lean Line, Alcoholics Anonymous and 5-Day-Plan-To-Quit-Smoking was 41.2 years, 42.3 years, and 39.8 years, respectively.

The lengths of time members enrolled in Lean Line varied from one day to thirty-two weeks. Alcoholics Anonymous subjects were members from a range of one day to thirty years. Smokers were members for only five days as that was the length of the withdrawal clinic.

The data from the questionnaire was compiled and results tabulated. Significantly more first barns were observed in the Lean Line group. (x2 = 3.62, df = 1, p2= 8.11, df = 1, p<0.6). Significantly more first borns were observed in the Alcoholics Anonymous groups. (x2 = 8.11, df = 1, p<.005). Less than the expected number of first borns were observed in the 5-Day-Pln-To-Quit-Smoking group. Thus, two of the three hypotheses were verified.

This study adds further support to prior studies that indicate a definite relationship between birth order and affiliation as defined by a desire to belong to certain groups.



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