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“So this website about popularity has really helped and I just LOVE it!! 🙂 Thank you for your help. 🙂 “


Anyone who has been through school will relate to Popularity Explained. The reader will also come to appreciate that the psychological forces underlying the phenomenon are not unique to adolescents. Anywhere there are people, there is potential for popularity: at work, at home, and even in retirement.

Chapter 1: The Phenomenon That Is

Let there be no doubt. Popularity is very real and very important. This fascinating phenomenon re-emerges every year but has never been fully explained.

Chapter 2: Students We All Know

Being “popular” isn’t about being liked or disliked: it is a perception by others. This distinction doesn’t mean that liking and disliking are irrelevant. All three concepts are necessary to classify students into groups and properly define the social landscape.

Chapter 3: The Hierarchy of Attraction

Attraction is not synonymous with beauty. There are many things that make someone attractive or unattractive. This fact, combined with statistics, form the basis of the Hierarchy of Attraction which depicts the attractiveness of people in terms of a percentile.

Chapter 4: Input of Energy

Human behaviour, despite its complexity and innumerable nuances, can be surprisingly consistent. Once overtaken by attraction, people begin to behave in ways that are predictable. These patterns of behaviour are referred to as “Input of Energy.”

Chapter 5: Attraction, Liking, & Attachment

Attraction, liking, and attachment are not synonymous. In fact, each has a unique neural signature and results in different behaviours. Because each originates from a different area in the brain, all three can be dissociated resulting in some odd and interesting behaviour.

Chapter 6: The Emergence of Popularity

Using the basic concepts discussed previous, the emergence of popularity can be explained. Where does it come from? Why does it happen so consistently? Why do the same traits always result in high social status?

Chapter 7: Liking and Disliking

To focus on popularity alone would be a fallacy. Only one third of the social landscape is defined by the dimension popular/unpopular. Liking and disliking must also be considered.

Chapter 8: The Situation

People underestimate how much the situation drives their behaviour. This important factor should never be ignored. In fact, it is the specific circumstances found in grade school that allow the phenomenon of popularity to reach its full fruition. Anywhere the grade school context is approximated, glimmers of popularity will re-emerge.

Chapter 9: Friendship and the Genesis of Cliques

No book on the subject of grade school social dynamics would be complete without a discussion of friendship and cliques. These expansive subjects are discussed together because the same predictors — proximity, similarity, and attraction — apply to both. The exact and specific reasons why two people bond are innumerable but that doesn’t mean meaningful predictions cannot be made.

Chapter 10: Breaking In & Painful Self-Discovery

The social dynamics of grade school are a system that can be studied and manipulated like any other. Purposeful interventions are possible and can result in real change. Although the experience of popularity is available to anyone who knows what to look for, not everyone can necessarily be everything. Some things aren’t meant to be and this can be a painful self-discovery.

Chapter 11: Some Questions Answered

Why does popularity emerge in every generation around the world? Why do popular students get away with being arrogant jerks? Why does sex always complicate things? How can popularity be experienced in five minutes or less? These and 18 other questions are answered in chapter 11.

Chapter 12: Practical Advice and Conclusions

What is the utility of theory without practical applications? After reading Popularity Explained, parents and educators will feel confident counselling students, answering questions, and offering advice. Eleven of the author’s own suggestions conclude the book.

Appendix I: The Original Essay

Appendix II: Further Reading



One Response to “Chapters”

  1. Micheal · Reply

    I’m 40 years old, very far away in life experience from worrying about grade school popularity concerns. I did however find your section about attractiveness in relationship to popularity instructive. To be truthful, even as an adult it can be challenging to maintain a social network. I’m a single father with custody of my child and he’s a toddler, so having a social life is difficult. Which brings ups a valid point to throw into your normal distribution curve formula. There is one trait that doesn’t follow a normal distribution pattern, I should think, and that is age. For one, age distribution is not bell shaped: I think it may be sort of haphazard (ie with the “baby boomer” generation and with birth survival rates in 3rd world countries etc). But generally speaking, the population of people had grown steadily with time, therefore there are more young people than older people, and with longevity of life increasing, there are more older people than there used to be.

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