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Only children more creative, less agreeable and it’s reflected in their brain structure

08 May 2017

There are some common-sense reasons for thinking that being raised without siblings will have meaningful psychological consequences – after all, “only children” are likely to get more attention from their parents than kids with sibs, but at the same time they miss out on the social experience that comes from sharing, playing and competing with brothers or sisters.

The latest study to look into this, published recently in Brain Imaging and Behavior, comes from China where the government’s one-child family planning programme has led to a huge increase in the numbers of only children. Junyi Yang and his colleagues scanned the brains of hundreds university students, about half of whom were only children and also tested their personality, creativity and intelligence.

The only children outperformed the participants with siblings on creativity, but they scored lower on trait agreeableness – psychological differences that appeared to coincide with relevant structural differences in their brains.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

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