There is a lot of pop psychology about the effect of birth order and spacing. Like most pop psychology there is an element of truth to it but to be interesting for the lay public it is simplified to the point of uselessness.
The stereotype is that middle children are bookended by an older sibling with parent-like authority over them and a younger sibling who monopolies the parent's love and affection. All of Jan Brady's accomplishments were overshadowed by her older sister Marsha's and Jan could not compete with Cindy's cuteness. Jan attempting to get recognition and attention even invented a boyfriend George Glass to seem more popular. Jan ended up following in her father's footsteps and becoming an architect, probably to win his approval.
The real effects of birth order and spacing are more complex and subtle than the middle child syndrome in pop psychology and TV sitcoms. While there does seem to be an effect individual variation has much more to do with how we turn out than where our birth falls.
@colleen I think the poster means why is the middle child usually treated differently, or why is he/she more "individual" I guess. For example, if you look at my dad(middle child) he is very quiet and conservative, but my aunt and uncle are very loud, out going people. Same thing can be said about my little brother(the one in the middle) he is very loud, obnoxious, and quirky, while me and our two other siblings are quiet and conservative.
So to answer your question universalvibe, I think it's just a way to try and get attention. I mean the other children are special in more ways. Using my family as an example, I'm the oldest, my sister is the second of four but she is the only girl, my little brother(the "middle one) is the second of three brother and in the middle of his siblings, then my youngest brother is the "baby" and definately the last to be born.
I understand what universalvibe means! We don't have a middle child in our family :) But the middle child is always quite different :P
I think it's because the eldest child usually gets the "leader" streak where they take care of the younger two and the youngest gets the "taking crap from everybody" That's me :( So the middle child tries to find his own sort of thing...
In what way, exactly? The first child is different from the second, who is different from the third, and so on ... every kid is "different". Can you be more clear?
because he or she were not pampered like the first one and not spoiled like the last one, stuck in the middle with 0 attention
btw pampered and spoiled mean the same thing just pampered is a nicer word :)