Rule 7:

Changing the Group You are in Changes How Popular You Are

In some groups, everybody will want you or what you have -- in this group you will be popular.

In a different group, nobody might want you or what you have -- in this group you will not be popular even if YOU are exactly the same.

The same is true of people liking you and disliking you. If you change the group you are in, how much you are liked will change. 

Without changing anything about yourself, you can change the group you’re in and suddenly discover that you’re popular, unpopular, liked, or disliked. 


College Is A Different Eco System | Shallon Lester, 2016

A different group means you can be a different person.


"In college though, it's like there are whole different eco systems that don't necessarily interact. For example, I was a Gamma Phi Beta at Cal. Poli. and we were the most popular girls in the Greek system... My point is, we were the most popular girls IN THE GREEK system. If you weren't Greek, you had no idea what Gamma Phi meant--it didn't mean anything to you. So although I was at the top of the food chain there, when I joined my improve team they're like, "cool Gamma Phi.... whatever, nobody cares." So that became like a different social ladder to climb which was great because it allowed me to live almost like, a bunch of different lives. I could be a different person with my sorority sisters, my theater people; I was in ROTC: I was a completely different person there."



Social status depends on context. 

No Longer "That Guy" | 17 Again, 2009

Mike was popular in high school but is not popular at work.


During high school, Mike O'Donnel is the most popular boy. After graduating, having kids, and choosing his career, he realizes that he is no longer "that guy" and that he is no longer popular. He is sad and disappointed and wishes that he could relive the glory days when he was 17 once again.  


Being popular in school does not guarantee that you will be popular once you are older and have a job. 

Boss to Joker | Beverly Hills 90210, 2008

Navid is popular in journalism club but not with the lacrosse team.


Navid produces the school's newscast and runs the journalism club. When working with this group of students, he is the well respected boss. Navid does not play lacrosse and is not a well respected jock. When confronted by the jocks, he is forced to defend himself, his ideas, and his jokes. In two different situations and groups, he is not treated the same even though he is the same person. 


Mike--And what is he doing here? I mean, he's not even on the team.
Navid--Yeah, I'm participating as a fan. I think I have a shrine to you|in my room, Mikey.
Mike--(sarcastically) Funny.



A well respected "boss" can be reduced to a not so funny "joker" by changing the people around him.

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Go to Rule 6: Liking Is About How You Treat Others

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Go to Rule 8: Friendship and Cliques Happen For the Same Three Reasons

Chapter 7: The Situation


Whenever you are thinking about things like friendship and popularity, it is important to consider the situation (Factor #3). The situation is like a wild card. It can make a big difference and change what you think should normally happen.

You probably know people who are really nice in private but who are really mean when they are around other people? This change in their personality is because of a change in the situation. Everyone acts a little different depending on if they are, for example, in church or at school. Always remember to think about the situation if you are trying to understand people.

The situation is so important that popularity is actually a result of the situation that exists in schools. There aren't many other times in life where it is like being back in school and this is why “popularity” seems to disappear after grade 12. 


Why Does “Popularity” Happen Only at School?

Attraction and Liking, the two feelings that cause popularity, are not unique to students. Parents, babies, and even old people feel Attraction and Liking [link to 1.4. liking heading] the same way you do. So why is popularity tied to school? It is because of a special set of circumstances that make the situation special. 


Circumstances that Make the Situation at School Special

Circumstance #1: There Are Only a Handful of Students 

Every school has the same problem of trying to get lots of students through school every year. The end result is that you get to be with the same group of students year after year. That means that there are only so many people you can get to know. At the beginning of each grade, its the same people.

Once you leave school, you will meet more people than you can even imagine. Even at university or college, which is a little bit like high school, you meet new people almost every day. Until then, you are stuck with the same group. 


Circumstance #2: Students Care About What Each Other Think 

Scientists have proven that students really care about what their friends and peers think. In fact, sometimes students care about what other people think so much that they are willing to sacrifice things like friendship, winning, desire to help, and romance just to make sure that they are not seen as unpopular.

Everyone, even adults, cares about what other people think. It is a natural human need to have other people think “good” about you. It is just that students care a lot more. 


Circumstance #3: Sex and Romance Are Very Important to Students 

If money makes the adult world turn, it is sex that turns the world of students. As students hit puberty, boys and girls start to think about sex and romance all the time. As a result, relationships and dating become very important to students. 

Sex is still important to adults but not as much. If you don't believe me, you can ask your parents. Or, if that's awkward, you can just look at the graph below. 


Circumstance #4: Every Day You See the Same People

Everyday at school, you see the same people for many hours. As a result, school is a student's entire life. Most students spend at least seven and a half hours at school Monday to Friday. With so much time spent there, what happens at school is very, very important. 


Other Situations that Are Like School

School is not like any other time in your life. It is the only time when all of the above five circumstances above come together. It is these five circumstances that allow popularity to happen. That is why “popularity” is tied to school. It is because school has all five circumstances that popularity is able to exist. As soon as these circumstances are no longer there, popularity disappears. When you graduate, you will understand this. This is not because people change, it is because the situation changes.

There are some situations in life where the situation is similar to school. For example, in college the following are once again true:

  • There is only a certain number of people you get to meet in your class.
  • Students care about what their peers think.
  • Sex is really important.
  • You see the same people every day. 

Really, the biggest difference between grade school and college is the fact that the students are a little older, have a little more experience, and don't see each other quite as often. Even so, because the situation is so similar to grade school, something a lot like popularity happens again. Personally, I've been to medical school and in many ways, it was a lot like high school--all of the students from the Student Map were there.

Who You Are and What You Are are enough to explain the Student Map . But, the situation should never be forgotten. It is, after all, the situation that makes popularity possible.


Circumstance #5: Students Don't Have as Much Experience as Adults

The simple truth is that everyone learns a lot about the world after graduating from grade 12. Until you have moved out, lived by yourself, had to work for money, and so on, you don't know as much about the world as you will. Students just don't have the experience to fully appreciate, for example:

  • How quickly you will meet other people after graduating.
  • How quickly, you will lose contact with you classmates.
  • How silly the whole “popularity” thing suddenly is after graduating.