05-02-2018 | Empirical Research
Social Costs for Wannabes: Moderating Effects of Popularity and Gender on the Links between Popularity Goals and Negative Peer Experiences
Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Youth and Adolescence | Uitgave 9/2018Log in om toegang te krijgen
Youth in early adolescence are highly concerned with being popular in the peer group, but the desire to be popular can have maladaptive consequences for individuals. In fact, qualitative work suggests that youth with high popularity goals who are nonetheless unpopular have negative experiences with their peers. However, little quantitative work has examined this possibility. The purpose of the current study was to examine if popularity goals were linked with physical (e.g., being hit) and relational (e.g., being excluded) victimization and peer rejection, particularly for individuals who strived for popularity but were viewed by their peers as unpopular. Late elementary and early middle school participants (N = 205; 54% female) completed self-reports of popularity goals and peer nominations of popularity and peer rejection. Teachers reported on students’ experiences of relational and physical victimization. Peer nominated popularity and gender were moderators of the association between popularity goals and negative peer experiences. Consistent with hypotheses, girls who were unpopular but wanted to be popular were more likely to experience peer rejection and relational victimization. Unexpectedly, boys who were unpopular but did not desire to be popular were more likely to be rejected and relationally victimized. The findings suggest that intervention and prevention programs may benefit from addressing the social status goals of low status youth in a gender-specific manner.