No matter how old you are, there's a good chance that the word "popular" immediately transports you back to your teenage years. Most of us can easily recall the adolescent social cliques, the high school pecking order, and which of our peers stood out as the most or the least popular teens we knew. Even as adults we still remember exactly where we stood in the high school social hierarchy, and the powerful emotions associated with our status persist decades later. This may be for good reason.
Mitch Prinstein examines why popularity plays such a key role in our development and, ultimately, how it still influences our happiness and success today.
Prinstein is the John Van Seters Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and the director of Clinical Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of "Popular: Finding Happiness and Success in a World That Cares Too Much About the Wrong Kinds of Relationships."
Prinstein's Peer Relations Lab has been conducting research on popularity and peer relations for almost 20 years and has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child and Human Development and several private foundations, resulting in over 100 scientific works, including many scientific journal articles, book chapters, a set of encyclopedias on adolescent development, and a textbook on the field of clinical psychology.