Friday, May 15, 2015

Technical analysis of...

...securities markets is a method of forecasting the direction of prices through the study of past market data, primarily price and volume.

The truth is, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't, either the analyst read the signals wrong or it is said to have "failed."

Or maybe the markets are just random.

But this post isn't about technical analysis or the markets. No, it's actually about children, or, that whole "nature vs. nurture" debate that I can't seem to let go of.

The Huffington Post ran a piece, "How Being An Oldest, Middle Or Youngest Child Shapes Your Personality," which seeks to explain, technical analysis-like, how birth order determines personality. (Except when it doesn't.)

From the article (my emphasis):

While a number of factors play a role in a child's development -- including genetics, environment and parenting -- birth order can also influence their defining traits and behaviors.

Since the 1970s, thousands of scientific studies on birth order have been conducted, but psychologists often disagree about how much of a role birth order actually plays in development. However, some common aspects of the personalities of oldest, middle and youngest children that are consistent across the literature.

Why do these differences occur? Many psychologists have suggested that siblings' personalities differ insofar as they adopt different strategies to win their parents' attention and favor. By this theory, the oldest child may be more likely to identify with authority and support the status quo, while younger children are more likely to seek attention by rebelling.

Interesting theory, isn't it?

But maybe, like the markets, it's all just random. It's human nature for parents to think they have the power to shape their kids' personalities and futures. After all, if you turn on the stove and the water boils, it's fair to assume that you made that happen. Take a bow! So why, through your own best efforts, couldn't you influence your kids just as easily?

Personally, I think it's a foolish conceit. How many times have parents said something like, "If we'd only done such-and-such, our kid would have turned out differently"? Or, "Our kid is so wonderful because we always made sure to do XYZ"?

My guess is that every conception is genetic roulette. In other words, it's the luck of the draw. And anyone who thinks that environment, parenting or even birth order determines a child's personality is just kidding themselves.

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