Popular kids in high school — and average kids who think they’re popular — tend to do well, psychologists say.
About 15 to 20 percent of high school students are rated as likable by their classmates, reports the New York Times.
They tend to have closer friendships, to excel academically and to get on well with most others, including parents â€” their own and their friendsâ€™.
In a continuing study of 185 students in a school in Charlottesville, Va., researchers led by Joseph P. Allen of the University of Virginia have concluded that this group is â€œcharacterized by a degree of openness to strong emotional experienceâ€ and optimism about their relationships, past and future.
About 50 percent of students are neither especially liked nor disliked while 30 to 35 percent are neglected students, who are invisible to their peers, or rejected students, who are disliked.
â€œWe have evidence that the neglected kids are the ones most likely to move up, or to move between groups,â€ (University of North Carolina psychologist Mitchell) Prinstein said. â€œThese are the ones with no established reputation, they kind of blend into the woodwork, and this can give them a kind of freedom.â€
The same cannot be said of the rejected group, on the lowest rung on the ladder. In several remarkable studies, researchers have brought together students from different schools, representing different levels of the social hierarchy. Within hours, sometimes less, the children assume their accustomed places â€” the popular ones on top, the socially awkward on the bottom. Climbing out of the geek ghetto is hard, even if a child knows what likability looks like.
Teens who think they’re popular tend to be well-adjusted, even if they’re fooling themselves about their social standing.
That fits in with the results of my daughter’s three-year study of what makes kids popular in middle school. (She was in middle school at the time.) She concluded that self-confidence is the key to popularity.
I think I was popular in high school within my social set. Or was I just happily deluded? It was a long time ago. I did claim to be the only non-neurotic Jewish graduate of Highland Park High School. I may still hold that title.