Relationship Between Birth Order, Birth Stress, and Lateral Preferences: A Critical Review

Alan Searleman, Clare Porac, Stanley Coren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Reviews the literature examining the relationship between birth order, birth stress, and lateral preferences in nonclinical samples, with special emphasis on reports since 1971. The review found no evidence to relate birth order position to deviations from right-sidedness for either sex. More direct measures of birth stress indicated that deviations from right-handedness (particularly for male subjects), and also right-eyedness, were statistically related to specific birth stressors. It should be stressed, however, that all the relationships, including the significant ones, were very weak, accounting for less than 1% of the variance. When statistical significance was achieved, it was largely due to the huge sample sizes used in the meta-analyses. Methodological and theoretical problems exist in the current literature, and we offer some suggestions to resolve them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-408
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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