Frank Sulloway

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Frank Jones Sulloway (born February 2, 1947) is an American psychologist. He is a visiting scholar at the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California, Berkeley[1] and a visiting professor in the Department of Psychology.[2] After finishing secondary school at Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island,[3] Sulloway studied at Harvard College and later earned a PhD in the history of science at Harvard.[4] He was a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[citation needed]

He is best known[according to whom?] for his claim that birth order exerts large effects on personality, and the subsequent debates about this issue. In his 1996 book Born to Rebel, Frank Sulloway suggested that birth order had powerful effects on the Big Five personality traits. He argued that firstborns were much more conscientious and socially dominant, less agreeable, and less open to new ideas compared to laterborns.[5] However, critics such as Fred Townsend, Toni Falbo, and Judith Rich Harris, argue against Sulloway's theories. A full issue of Politics and the Life Sciences, dated September, 2000 but not published until 2004[6] due to legal threats from Sulloway, contains carefully and rigorously researched criticisms of Sulloway's theories and data. Subsequent large independent multi-cohort studies have revealed approximately zero-effect of birth order on personality.[7]

His grandfather was the tennis player and attorney Frank Sulloway (1883–1981).[8]



  • Freud, Biologist of the Mind: Beyond the Psychoanalytic Legend. New York: Basic Books. 1983 [1979]. ISBN 0233971777.
  • Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives. Pantheon. 1996. ISBN 0679442324.
  • Darwin and His Bears: How Darwin Bear and His Galápagos Islands Friends Inspired a Scientific Revolution. Blast Books. 2021. ISBN 978-0922233519.


  1. ^ "IPSR Directory: Faculty". Institute of Personality and Social Research. Archived from the original on 2010-06-14. Retrieved 2015-03-30.
  2. ^ "Details for: Frank J Sulloway". UC Regents. Retrieved 2015-03-30.
  3. ^ "Cupola spring 2012: What's Ahead?".
  4. ^ "Born Rebels". The Paula Gordon Show. Retrieved 2015-03-30.
  5. ^ Sulloway, F.J. (2001). Birth Order, Sibling Competition, and Human Behavior. In Paul S. Davies and Harmon R. Holcomb, (Eds.), Conceptual Challenges in Evolutionary Psychology: Innovative Research Strategies. Dordrecht and Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pages 39–83. "Full text" (PDF). (325 KB)
  6. ^ Harris, Judith Rich (2006), No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality (pages 107–112)
  7. ^ Rohrer, Julia M.; Egloff, Boris; Schmukle, Stefan C. (2015-11-17). "Examining the effects of birth order on personality". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112 (46): 14224–14229. Bibcode:2015PNAS..11214224R. doi:10.1073/pnas.1506451112. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 4655522. PMID 26483461.
  8. ^ "Guide to the Alvah Sulloway Papers, 1836–2006" (PDF). New Hampshire Historical Society.
  9. ^ "Frank Sulloway – MacArthur Foundation". Retrieved 2018-08-12.

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