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Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World


Mitch Prinstein, the Director of Clinical Pyschology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, explains the science behind popularity—and why it can be so elusive for many—in his new book. [:|Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World] explains why whether or not we are “popular” as children plays such a huge role in our development. Whether or not we were popular in elementary school and high school has surprising effects on our careers, family life and friendships later on and, interestingly, it's difficult to change our “popularity level.” Prinstein explains that, although we can control to a certain extent whether we are popular or not, craving popularity and striving for it is part of our biology—it’s the way humans are wired.

Prinstein also delves into the difference between being popular because one is likable and being popular because one has high status. Both types of people are socially powerful, but the way others feel about them is vastly different. It’s interesting to read about the details and the science behind popularity, because it’s an issue that even the happiest among us struggle with from time to time. We can all relate to wanting to be well-liked and well-received, and Prinstein’s book offers useful advice for using and controlling those impulses.

Popular is a particularly interesting read today, as social media becomes ever more prevalent in our lives.