kitchen table math, the sequel: on the other hand

Friday, January 25, 2013

on the other hand

follow on to Why you don't want your child to be popular
Last October, the National Bureau of Economic Research distributed a study showing a compelling correlation between high-school popularity—measured by how many “friendship nominations” each kid received from their peers—and future earnings in boys. Thirty-five years later, the authors estimated, boys who ranked in the 80th percentile of popularity earned, on average, 10 percent more than those in the 20th. There are obvious chicken-and-egg questions in all studies like this; maybe these kids were already destined for dominance, which is why they were popular. But Gabriella Conti, an economist and first author of the paper, notes that she and her colleagues took into consideration the personality traits of their subjects, measuring their levels of openness, agreeableness, extroversion, and so forth. “And adolescent popularity is predictive beyond them,” she says, “which tells me this is about more than just personality. It’s about interpersonal relations. High school is when you learn how to master social relationships—and to understand how, basically, to ‘play the game.’ ” Or don’t. want your child to be well-liked but not popular?

Is that it?

Maybe so. Another study found that 10th grade girls who self-identified as brainy fared well compared to "princesses":
At 24, the princesses had lower self-esteem than the brainy girls, which certainly wasn’t true when they were 16.
Why You Never Truly Leave High School
By Jennifer Senior Published Jan 20, 2013 | New York Magazine


Jen said...

I don't know -- is there any actual way to make/raise your kid to be any of these things?

I mean, as much as we all like the idea of personal change, it really seems like we change within the range of our born with predispositions/personality.

I did rather try to make my children less shy than I am -- but what did I know about that?!

I'd have also taught them eye-hand-ball coordination, but I couldn't really do that.

Crimson Wife said...

The work world rewards braininess far more than the H.S. social world does. However, it's been my observation that among equally bright women, the ones who are good at interpersonal relations tend to have in general made better career progress than the ones who don't have as good people skills.

Catherine Johnson said...


I was talking to Debbie S about this --- and she came up with a great term: "floater."

Debbie says she was a 'floater' in h.s.

Her main group was the popular kids, but she wasn't central to that group and she floated among the various groups.

I think I was similar. To the degree that I had a group, it was a little group of smart girls, but I always floated -- I liked all kinds of kids & spent time with different kids....

Today, reading this article, I'm thinking that those kids probably liked me just as I liked them.

And I'm guessing that's part of the reason I emerged from high school pretty much unscathed.

So, at this point, my formulation is: well-liked, NOT popular ---- and I do think that's a 'status' a parent can foster in a child, but that's just a gut feeling at the moment.

I'm going to have to think it through.

Catherine Johnson said...

Jen - offhand I don't think that likeability ***necessarily*** has a lot to do with temperament.

I'm not sure about that....but that's the way it strikes me.