In one study, Dr. Prinstein examined the two types of popularity in 235 adolescents, scoring the least liked, the most liked and the highest in status based on student surveys. “We found that the least well-liked teens had become more aggressive over time toward their classmates. But so had those who were high in status. It was a nice demonstration that while likability can lead to healthy adjustment, high status has just the opposite effect on us.”
Dr. Prinstein has also found that the qualities that made the neighbors want you on a play date — sharing, kindness, openness — carry over to later years and make you better able to relate and connect with others.
In analyzing his and other research, Dr. Prinstein came to another conclusion: Not only does likability correlate to positive life outcomes, but it is also responsible, he said, for those outcomes, too. “Being liked creates opportunities for learning and for new kinds of life experiences that help somebody gain an advantage,” he told me.
My Dearest Shosh and Jaialai:
Be nice, my sons. It costs you little, but the impact on others may be great. Everyone has his or her own cross to bear. Why worsen the burden when it could be lightened with kind words?
Our forebears say, “Twirl your tongues seven times before you speak.” That is sound advice.
Don’t worry about being the most popular. Studies show kids who peaked in popularity in primary and secondary schools tend to be stuck at those stages and do worse later in life. Be nice. Learn to work with others.
Help others. You’ll find that it will make you happier. This is why I have often volunteered when I have time. My one regret is that I didn’t involve you in my volunteerism while I had the opportunity.
All my love, always,