Parents biased toward eldest child : study

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Washington, Jan 2 (UNI) Most parents would deny it but it's true that they are instinctively biased toward the eldest child, defying the prevailing thoughts of the younger siblings being favoured by parents, according to a study.

Researchers from the University of Manchester carried out a study on a unique species of beetle that raises and cares for its young ones, and found that parents have a natural tendency of favouring their eldest child, the Science Daily reported.

''When we allow the parents to remain with the offspring, there is clear favouritism towards the older siblings, which grow at a faster rate as they take the lion's share of their parents' offerings, '' said Dr Per Smiseth, who led the research.

The team believes there are two explanations for the behaviour: the first is that the parents attach more value to the older offspring as their maturity gives them a better chance of survival than their younger siblings.

The second explanation is that the older children, being stronger, are able to dominate their younger rivals and, in doing so, better attract the attention of the parents when begging for food.

The researchers think the true answer for such favouratism is probably some combination of the two explanations.

Human families are more complex and parent-child relationships are much more sophisticated. However, studying the beetle can help us understand the basic biological principles of how family relationships work.

''Our study looked at how the parent beetles mediate competition between different aged offspring compared to what happens when the young were left to fend for themselves and indicates that parental decisions are important in determining the outcome of competition between offspring,'' Dr Smiseth added.

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