Quantitative Review of the Only Child Literature. Research Evidence and Theory Development

Toni L Falbo, Denise F. Polit

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

86 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Six meta-analyses of the research literature on the only child were conducted in order to evaluate the status of the only child and to guide theory development in this area. The 115 studies included here generated enough information to justify meta-analyses on the following topics: achievement, adjustment, character, intelligence, parent-child relationships, and sociability. Only borns were found to surpass all others except firstborns and people from two-child families on achievement and intelligence. They also surpassed all non-only borns, especially people from families with three or more children, in character and they surpassed all non-only borns, especially those from large families, in the positivity of the parent-child relationship. Across all developmental outcomes, only children were found to be indistinguishable from firstborns and people from small families. Theories relating to only child deprivation and only child uniqueness were discredited by the results of the six meta-analyses. The meta-analysis supported parent-child relationships as an important factor in producing the developmental outcomes attained by only children, firstborns, and people from two-child families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-189
Number of pages14
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Volume100
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 1986

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Literature
Only Child
Parent-Child Relations
Meta-Analysis
Research
Intelligence
Social Adjustment
Development Theory
Children's Literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Cite this

Quantitative Review of the Only Child Literature. Research Evidence and Theory Development. / Falbo, Toni L; Polit, Denise F.

In: Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 100, No. 2, 01.09.1986, p. 176-189.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Falbo, Toni L ; Polit, Denise F. / Quantitative Review of the Only Child Literature. Research Evidence and Theory Development. In: Psychological Bulletin. 1986 ; Vol. 100, No. 2. pp. 176-189.
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