Adam Kazimierczak
United States
Falmouth
Maine
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sounds far fetched but hear me out.

I was listening to an episode of NPR’s “Hidden Brain” a couple months ago and there was an interesting theory about our innate human capacity for empathy. Numerous studies have been done that show that people in positions of power have less capacity for empathy than those without power. This supposedly has to do with our instinctual need to pay attention to social cues as primates when we are down and out and less so when we are on top.

So I was mulling over this and thought, “Interesting theory, but I’m not convinced it’s a significant factor!” Then we had my wife’s family over for Christmas and played a game of Cockaroch Poker. Three kids, all non-gamers, and the oldest kid was the worst while the youngest kid was the best. I found this odd and I thought of my own family: oldest child very smart but horrible at Love Letter, Deception, Resistance: Avalon. Younger child quite good at those games despite being pretty bad at most strategy games.

Then I did a retrospective analysis of other friends/family who I’ve introduced to bluffing and/or social deduction games. And, at least from my limited pool of subjects, youngest siblings and people with less societal power have generally performed better than eldest siblings and leader types when skill at a game was equalized at zero.

So are some of us just innately better at these social games than others? Undoubtedly. But whether something as simple as social or birth hierarchy can be a huge influence on this talent is an interesting question.

I’m training a community of chimpanzees to play Coup to test my theory and will get back to you with the results...
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Roland Hemisphere
United States
Milwaukee
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Apart from the tiny sample size, it’s a fascinating observation. Social deduction games would be an interesting tool to study social dynamics, or, the effects of social dynamics. They’d be interesting in a clinical or therapeutic setting.

Anecdotal: I’m the oldest of two. I hate social deduction games.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
T. Dauphin
Canada
Ontario
flag msg tools
Avatar
mb

Yea, probably.
I'm sure, like most of things, it's complicated. And I'm pretty firm on that position.

kaziam wrote:
Sounds far fetched but hear me out.

I was listening to an episode of NPR’s “Hidden Brain” a couple months ago and there was an interesting theory about our innate human capacity for empathy. Numerous studies have been done that show that people in positions of power have less capacity for empathy than those without power. This supposedly has to do with our instinctual need to pay attention to social cues as primates when we are down and out and less so when we are on top.
Not sure what is cause or effect, here. I'll have to listen to that one. I would think that people get into positions of power because they approach the world without feeling the need to waste energy on such silly things as empathy yuk , not because they lose it once there. Is that the angle?

kaziam wrote:

So I was mulling over this and thought, “Interesting theory, but I’m not convinced it’s a significant factor!” Then we had my wife’s family over for Christmas and played a game of Cockaroch Poker. Three kids, all non-gamers, and the oldest kid was the worst while the youngest kid was the best. I found this odd and I thought of my own family: oldest child very smart but horrible at Love Letter, Deception, Resistance: Avalon. Younger child quite good at those games despite being pretty bad at most strategy games.

Then I did a retrospective analysis of other friends/family who I’ve introduced to bluffing and/or social deduction games. And, at least from my limited pool of subjects, youngest siblings and people with less societal power have generally performed better than eldest siblings and leader types when skill at a game was equalized at zero.

So are some of us just innately better at these social games than others? Undoubtedly. But whether something as simple as social or birth hierarchy can be a huge influence on this talent is an interesting question.
It occurs to me that birth hierarchy might have relevance in a different way. I think that younger players would not yet have acquired the expectations of convention that we older gamers have, and they may therefore play less predictably, making them harder to beat.


kaziam wrote:

I’m training a community of chimpanzees to play Coup to test my theory and will get back to you with the results...
The result will be a captive audience of Coup players, no doubt.


4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Larry L
United States
Stockton
California
flag msg tools
Roll for it
badge
This image shows the Temple of Andor, a Spore Galactic Adventures Logic puzzle.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Of course younger siblings are better at bluffing games, those lying little weasels.

... you might guess that I am the oldest. I am also pretty bad at bluffing and social deduction games, although I really like bluffing games.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derry Salewski
United States
Augusta
Maine
flag msg tools
badge
I'm only happy when it rains...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Are other people better than me at dumb games I find boring.

Highly likely!!!

(Oldest. Empathizes for a living. Doesn't see much here.)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm the eldest and have horrible social skills, but so does my baby brother. Arguably, his are worse. The middle sibling, our sister, is great at reading people. I'm not sure its empathy-related, though. She often uses it for her own advantage.

I also disagree about the older sibling having a more leadership role. Because of her strong personality and better social skills, she was often my protector. She definitely didn't look to me for anything, except for help with math. That often happens if the older kid is shy or awkward.

As you said, your sample size is small. It's also not good sampling methodology to look at people who have familial or social connections with each other. The correlation could be from many other factors, like religion or subculture.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
jos horst
Netherlands
groningen
groningen
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If you're on to something you'd expect an overrepresentation of firstborns amongst CEO's. There must be data on that.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shotgun Games
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There's already numerous studies on the effects of birth-order, and the theory is mostly credited to Sigmund Freud and his protege Carl Jung. Despite that most of Freud's theory of Psychoanalysis is generally scoffed at, he did introduce the world to the idea of what-is-now our modern view of human psychology. Birth Order theory is one of the few explanations of human development that has, for the most part, shown to be somewhat accurate. That's not just on a cultural level, but globally, with the same effects spanding all human societies and history.

A majority of the world's business leaders, US presidents, world leaders, titans of industry, Ivy League college students, sports athletes, etc... are first-born. This isn't unique to just the United States, it's a human phenomenon that has been so since the start of time.

Meanwhile, the opposite is true of last-borns (youngest child). Famous artists, musicians, and generally anything related to a creative profession is statistically weighted with the youngest-child being the most successful.

A lot of middle-borns tend to be over-achievers. The Jan Brady/Lisa Simpson/Middle-Child syndrome is kind of a joke at this point, but relevant enough to reflect our popular culture.

I know this is all sort of "pop psychology" but if you really look at society, the point tends to be kind of true. There's all kinds of explanations and theories on how and why birth-order causes this effect. Personally, I think birth-order does effect one's development. Not innately of course (the youngest child can still grow up to be a world-leader!), but just through environmental causes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_order
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Larry L
United States
Stockton
California
flag msg tools
Roll for it
badge
This image shows the Temple of Andor, a Spore Galactic Adventures Logic puzzle.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ShotgunGames wrote:


A majority of the world's business leaders, US presidents, world leaders, titans of industry, Ivy League college students, sports athletes, etc... are first-born.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shotgun Games
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
RingelTree wrote:
ShotgunGames wrote:


A majority of the world's business leaders, US presidents, world leaders, titans of industry, Ivy League college students, sports athletes, etc... are first-born.
I'd recommend watching the whole thing but skip to 22:58 for the birth-order part.


I love this guy's video lectures. Check em out. He talks about a wide range of other theories on human psychology (when is it moral to commit murder? how much money is a human life really worth? are income taxes inherently fair?) etc...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Larry L
United States
Stockton
California
flag msg tools
Roll for it
badge
This image shows the Temple of Andor, a Spore Galactic Adventures Logic puzzle.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
When you say majority, you mean more than 50% right?

... actually a quick check shows that more than 50% of U.S. presidents were middle children...


 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shotgun Games
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
RingelTree wrote:
When you say majority, you mean more than 50% right?

... actually a quick check shows that more than 50% of U.S. presidents were middle children...


A majority of US presidents are also left-handed. What's your point?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Larry L
United States
Stockton
California
flag msg tools
Roll for it
badge
This image shows the Temple of Andor, a Spore Galactic Adventures Logic puzzle.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Birth order pop psychology points to middle children being more likely to end up in positions of power, such as politics or leading companies.

Edit: Nope, some says first born, some says middle children.


 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Larry L
United States
Stockton
California
flag msg tools
Roll for it
badge
This image shows the Temple of Andor, a Spore Galactic Adventures Logic puzzle.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think there are a few things to watch out for:

A majority of everyone born in wealthy countries are first born for a couple of decades. This is exaggerated among wealthy families.

That being said, "more likely" does not mean "dramatically more likely". Given two children of a wealthy family, if the first born is headed toward the Ivy leagues, I am confident there is a much more than 50% chance the second born is as well.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Larry L
United States
Stockton
California
flag msg tools
Roll for it
badge
This image shows the Temple of Andor, a Spore Galactic Adventures Logic puzzle.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ShotgunGames wrote:
RingelTree wrote:
When you say majority, you mean more than 50% right?

... actually a quick check shows that more than 50% of U.S. presidents were middle children...


A majority of US presidents are also left-handed. What's your point?
You said the opposite.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shotgun Games
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
RingelTree wrote:
ShotgunGames wrote:
RingelTree wrote:
When you say majority, you mean more than 50% right?

... actually a quick check shows that more than 50% of U.S. presidents were middle children...


A majority of US presidents are also left-handed. What's your point?
You said the opposite.
OP's original post still has merit. Arguing over logical fallacies, while not a complete waste of time, diverts the issue. Simply being born first, middle, or last, has an effect on one's development, whether we are conscious of it or not.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Larry L
United States
Stockton
California
flag msg tools
Roll for it
badge
This image shows the Temple of Andor, a Spore Galactic Adventures Logic puzzle.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ShotgunGames wrote:
RingelTree wrote:
ShotgunGames wrote:
RingelTree wrote:
When you say majority, you mean more than 50% right?

... actually a quick check shows that more than 50% of U.S. presidents were middle children...


A majority of US presidents are also left-handed. What's your point?
You said the opposite.
OP's original post still has merit. Arguing over logical fallacies, while not a complete waste of time, diverts the issue. Simply being born first, middle, or last, has an effect on one's development, whether we are conscious of it or not.
Fair enough.

People exaggerate psychological research all the time, though, and it bothers me. There are effects, but much much less dramatic (and much much less universal) than you state.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shotgun Games
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
RingelTree wrote:
Birth order pop psychology points to middle children being more likely to end up in positions of power, such as politics or leading companies.

Edit: Nope, some says first born, some says middle children.


It depends on where you get your sources, but yes middle-children tend to be over-achievers (i.e. Genghis Khan). The US President thing, I was wrong about, but the other parameters attributed to first-born is generally true.

Other interesting effects on birth-order is significantly pronounced in Chinese and Japanese culture. Also the effect of religious upbringing vs atheist, divorce rates, homelessness, drug abuse, alcoholism, etc... pretty much anything you can think of.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan Keane
United States
Medford
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
I find the birth-rank correlation studies very suspect. I rarely look at them closely, but I don’t think they usually control for family size (eg it’s stupid to include those who were single children; is first-born in a family of 2 children really the same as first-born in a family of 6?). And I just don’t find it an interesting question.

I am interested in studies of power and empathy, but it’s hard to tease out causation. I also believe there’s a big factor of privilege - how does being born into a more privileged status (wealthy, well-educated parents, gender, race, abled, etc) relate to how much power you attain and how much empathy you develop.

As far as that relates to success in social deduction games, I have no clue. I don’t really equate being able to read people well in a game situation with empathy. And I find many of my most empathetically-skilled friends and family, while they might be good at social deduction games if they cared to play them, but they generally don’t like games. They’re not invested in trying to win games.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shotgun Games
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
When it comes to social deduction games, and through my own personal obversation playing games like GoodCritters and Sheriff of Nottingham with my nephew and nieces... I've noticed that the oldest child always comes in last or near last, while the younger children typically wins.

It's not that younger children are better at social deduction in some inherent way, it's just the way everyone else reacts to the youngest child.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
April W
United States
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Interesting theory. In my limited experience playing social deduction games with my siblings, my oldest sister is not as good as my youngest sister.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lord Zero
United States
Lima
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
HAHAHAHA I'M THE YOUNGEST! *rolls around in all the social deduction games I enjoy*
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Earl Wyatt McGarry III
United States
Mississippi
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Just here to say - I'm a middle child and I can lie like a rug.

Also, my mom always used to make us play easy on our youngest brother, until I pointed out the absurdity of the tactic when he was 15. I think he still resents me for that...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls