Being Popular: Why it Consumes Teens and Continues to Affect Adults - MindShift | Professional Learning for Busy Educators |
Popularity is a loaded word. For many adults, it evokes powerful memories of jockeying for position in high school cafeterias and hallways.

These memories are salient for a reason, said Mitch Prinstein, a professor of psychology and author of “Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World.” The urge to be popular among our peers reaches its zenith in adolescence, “at just the same time we are developing a stable personality,” said Prinstein. “So the messages you get at age 14 about who you are and how the world works will affect how you behave when you are 40.”

But popularity has paradoxes. Sometimes the most popular students are also widely disliked by their peers — even when those same peers seek to emulate them.  And although we are hardwired to seek popularity, it isn’t always healthy for us, said Prinstein. In fact, one form of popularity puts teens at risk for long-term consequences.