Why Some People Are Popular And Why We Seek It

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Riya Halbhavi
Jul 24, 2019   •  45 views

Popularity is a topic we are well versed with. We are surrounded by peers of varying popularity, whether it is at school, the workplace, or even among your social circles.

5 Categories of Sociometric Popularity

Here are the five broad categories or divisions of people’s popularity status, with ‘popular’ being the highest and ‘rejected’/‘neglected’ the lowest. Around 50% of us belong to the ‘average’ category - neither popular nor unpopular, while a surprising 20% of people are considered popular. Which one do you belong to?

What makes a person ‘popular?’

There are several factors due to which some people are more popular than others:

  • Behaviour

  • Physical Appearance

  • Intelligence

  • Family Factors

We see popular people’s actions as influential and thus consider them as the basis for the ‘social norms’, which is why we follow the same to conform to these norms, which are seen as appealing. We are drawn to their characteristics and actions. It can be said that unpopular people have a worse social life than popular people. It is observed on a mass scale that an individual’s social status tends to remain unchanged throughout their life. This is seen mainly from adolescence. This is because, even through adulthood, our mind subconsciously recreates social experiences from our adolescence and we thus translate them into action.

Human Evolution & Popularity

From a biological perspective, human evolution has a crucial role in the matter. Ancient humans used to lead their lives in groups/colonies, thus conveying that being in a social group was a means of safety and protection. Similarly, I can conclude that in the modern era, being part of a group somewhat protects us from rejection from peers and thus, we have a desire to be popular. To elucidate on these groups being viewed as a means of safety, the dominant people in the groups were probably the most popular, due to their resourcefulness and useful contributions to the group. As this was a period of fighting for survival and leading a nomadic lifestyle, the less active people of the group - the less useful ones - probably felt rejected by the other members, because they did not aid the group much in their strife. Their lack of contribution probably also resulted in these rejected members facing problems or possibly death. Thus, being popular in these herds was integral for its members. Thus, I can say that this has been a recurring cycle throughout the centuries, upto the modern era. This mindset of being popular in order to sustain has been gradually inculcated in all people. Now, people are much more civilized and living is not as difficult as before. However, we still still seek popularity due to this mindset, thanks to the process of human evolution.

Why do we seek popularity among our peers?

It is widely observed and studied that we seek popularity to gain validation from peers by conforming to the social ‘norms’ that these popular people set. Seeking for approval is inevitable in human beings. One such method to gain popularity is the use of social media. ‘Liking’ someone’s post establishes cordiality between two people, but does not increase the liker’s popularity among the same group of people. We also seek popularity because we often wish to be like the ‘popular’ people in our social circles, and thus seeking for validation is something we resort to.

Moreover, popularity has quite an interesting psychology behind it - but remember that it doesn’t mean everything in life!

Citations

https://www.coursera.org/learn/popularity

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Profile of Chetana
Chetana  •  2y  •  Reply
Keep them coming Riya
Profile of Chetana
Chetana  •  2y  •  Reply
Very insightful and beautifully written!