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A leading psychologist examines how our popularity affects our success, our relationships, and our happiness--and why we don't always want to be the most popular. Popular examines why popularity plays such a key role in our development and, ultimately, how it still influences our happiness and success today. In many ways--some even beyond our conscious awareness--those old A leading psychologist examines how our popularity affects our success, our relationships, and our happiness--and why we don't always want to be the most popular. Popular examines why popularity plays such a key role in our development and, ultimately, how it still influences our happiness and success today. In many ways--some even beyond our conscious awareness--those old dynamics of our youth continue to play out in every business meeting, every social gathering, in our personal relationships, and even how we raise our children. Our popularity even affects our DNA, our health, and our mortality in fascinating ways we never previously realized. More than childhood intelligence, family background, or prior psychological issues, research indicates that it's how popular we were in our early years that predicts how successful and how happy we grow up to be. But it's not always the conventionally popular people who fare the best, for the simple reason that there is more than one type of popularity--and many of us still long for the wrong one. As children, we strive to be likable, which can offer real benefits not only on the playground but throughout our lives. In adolescence, though, a new form of popularity emerges, and we suddenly begin to care about status, power, influence, and notoriety--research indicates that this type of popularity hurts us more than we realize. Popular addresses a topic more relevant today than ever before. In a world that pushes us to pursue power, and click our way to online status, it has become too easy to be lured towards a type of popularity that can harm us, and our children. Popular relies on the latest research in psychology and neuroscience to help us make the wisest choices for ourselves and for our children. With specific tips for parents, business leaders, and all adults who can remember their high school experiences, as well as a letter to teens to help this generation navigate a world in which popularity has become more complex than ever before, Popular can teach us all how to achieve more meaningful, successful, and rewarding relationships.


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A leading psychologist examines how our popularity affects our success, our relationships, and our happiness--and why we don't always want to be the most popular. Popular examines why popularity plays such a key role in our development and, ultimately, how it still influences our happiness and success today. In many ways--some even beyond our conscious awareness--those old A leading psychologist examines how our popularity affects our success, our relationships, and our happiness--and why we don't always want to be the most popular. Popular examines why popularity plays such a key role in our development and, ultimately, how it still influences our happiness and success today. In many ways--some even beyond our conscious awareness--those old dynamics of our youth continue to play out in every business meeting, every social gathering, in our personal relationships, and even how we raise our children. Our popularity even affects our DNA, our health, and our mortality in fascinating ways we never previously realized. More than childhood intelligence, family background, or prior psychological issues, research indicates that it's how popular we were in our early years that predicts how successful and how happy we grow up to be. But it's not always the conventionally popular people who fare the best, for the simple reason that there is more than one type of popularity--and many of us still long for the wrong one. As children, we strive to be likable, which can offer real benefits not only on the playground but throughout our lives. In adolescence, though, a new form of popularity emerges, and we suddenly begin to care about status, power, influence, and notoriety--research indicates that this type of popularity hurts us more than we realize. Popular addresses a topic more relevant today than ever before. In a world that pushes us to pursue power, and click our way to online status, it has become too easy to be lured towards a type of popularity that can harm us, and our children. Popular relies on the latest research in psychology and neuroscience to help us make the wisest choices for ourselves and for our children. With specific tips for parents, business leaders, and all adults who can remember their high school experiences, as well as a letter to teens to help this generation navigate a world in which popularity has become more complex than ever before, Popular can teach us all how to achieve more meaningful, successful, and rewarding relationships.

30 review for Popular: Finding Happiness and Success in a World That Cares Too Much about the Wrong Kinds of Relationships

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    My full review for this title and many others can be found on United by Pop. The ideology, put forward and explained in this book, is that the desire to be included, and therefore deemed 'popular', is an unavoidable part of the human psyche. But this desired popularity is being channelled  in the wrong ways. Instead of longing for status, power, influence, and notoriety, we can - and should - be hankering for an alternative source of popularity. The popularity that comes from likeability and not My full review for this title and many others can be found on United by Pop. The ideology, put forward and explained in this book, is that the desire to be included, and therefore deemed 'popular', is an unavoidable part of the human psyche. But this desired popularity is being channelled  in the wrong ways. Instead of longing for status, power, influence, and notoriety, we can - and should - be hankering for an alternative source of popularity. The popularity that comes from likeability and not from power. By beginning to understand the distinctions between these two types of popularity, Mitch Prinstein, teaches us how to channel the right source to provide unbounded joy and success in our lives, regardless of where we would place ourselves on the social hierarchy governing each of our lives. This book is divided into nine easy-to-navigate chapters. Each outlines a function of popularity and is paired with numerous real-life examples of it playing out, that every reader from every walk-of-life could relate to. I also appreciated the focus on the modern preoccupation with social media, and how this filtered reality has impacted and re-shaped both society and the traditional structure of popularity. The knowledge imparted in this book is extensive but putting it into practise is something the reader can instantly begin to do, with little fuss. It also has a great message of self-empowerment that every individual can take away and hold close to them, in the moments when life seems unfair or bad karma seems to be taking an extra special liking to us.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    This was an easy, information-filled read, made compelling by the author's conversational no-bullshit style. It was definitely interesting to read about popularity, the difference between status and likability, and the ways our entire lives, careers, relationships and mental health can be affected by our popularity in early childhood and adolescence. I think the only problem is how reductionist some of the ideas are. Prinstein straight up acknowledges that the five popularity types - Accepted, Re This was an easy, information-filled read, made compelling by the author's conversational no-bullshit style. It was definitely interesting to read about popularity, the difference between status and likability, and the ways our entire lives, careers, relationships and mental health can be affected by our popularity in early childhood and adolescence. I think the only problem is how reductionist some of the ideas are. Prinstein straight up acknowledges that the five popularity types - Accepted, Rejected, Neglected, Controversial and Average - are reductive in nature, but then proceeds to form generalizations based upon them anyway. I am skeptical as to how universal his findings are. The book is driven by anecdotes, featuring many different people who fall into one of the categories of popularity. I liked this a lot. Prinstein explores how this affects their life, showing how more qualified people can be passed up for a promotion if another candidate is an "Accepted", or how people unconsciously listen to and value the opinion of popular "Accepted" people over others. Lots of interesting info and thought-provoking anecdotes, but I don't know that it's as simple and black and white as the author portrays. Personality, popularity and privilege overlap in many complex ways; it seems silly to suggest that all people who enjoy a certain type of popularity will reap the future benefits, or alternatively, those who are "Rejected" or "Neglected" may be affected more or less by their status and/or likability, depending on the individual. Factors such as gender, wealth, and class surely also come into play. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  3. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    I think the quote from Adam Grant on the front cover of this book says a lot about the content but not in a good way. "This book helped me understand why I wasn't cool as a kid, why I'm still not today, and why I shouldn't care." The actual content of the book says the exact opposite. Overall, I think this book's entire aim is unhelpful to dangerous in our world. It seems to mostly be a book about extraverted behavior leading to happiness while introverted behavior leads to social pariahs who ge I think the quote from Adam Grant on the front cover of this book says a lot about the content but not in a good way. "This book helped me understand why I wasn't cool as a kid, why I'm still not today, and why I shouldn't care." The actual content of the book says the exact opposite. Overall, I think this book's entire aim is unhelpful to dangerous in our world. It seems to mostly be a book about extraverted behavior leading to happiness while introverted behavior leads to social pariahs who get to die early and alone and how a whole lot of the reason is things that happened before you were born or before you were old enough to shape your life in any powerful way. The outcome of the ideals presented in this book is a world where everyone is happy because they are popular due to their likeability. To me, that seems to be a world where the ideal is a world of Stepford wives whose focus is maintaining the pretense of likeable popularity over actually living in reality and where group-think is more important than the dissenting voice that, while not being popular, is necessary for society to continue evolving. I think the most overarching problem with this book is its American-centric view of the world of human interaction. For societies all over the world that value community and family over self, almost none of the conclusions would seem to apply. Ironically, even though one of the examples used of social rejection influencing evolution is a story about a rejected woman leaving the group and then getting killed by a mammoth, I think the lack of consideration of the group cohesion that actually allowed humans to survive and evolve over time along with the compassion, self-sacrifice, and altruism inherent to that group cohesion makes many of these conclusions too modern to apply to humanity in general, let alone the evolving humanity of the future.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    A fascinating look at "popularity," which includes the concepts of status and likeability. A fascinating look at "popularity," which includes the concepts of status and likeability.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This is a nonfiction - psychology - social science type of book. It was about popularity in school and how kids drag their assigned status into adulthood. And not only that, but how their assigned social status effects their whole entire life. I liked the research in this. I enjoyed the scientific approach. It was definitely interesting, but this felt so preliminary. While it created a pleasant walk down 'memory lane' of high school, I think a lot of this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. This is a nonfiction - psychology - social science type of book. It was about popularity in school and how kids drag their assigned status into adulthood. And not only that, but how their assigned social status effects their whole entire life. I liked the research in this. I enjoyed the scientific approach. It was definitely interesting, but this felt so preliminary. While it created a pleasant walk down 'memory lane' of high school, I think a lot of this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I just wasn't able to wholly buy into this. So 3 stars.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    An easy interesting read. I gained insights about my own life in here, but I found it really useful to use some of these concepts to help my kids through their social worlds. The ideas are very simple and probably simplistic (seek to be kind and liked as opposed to high status), but some of the studies on how much our peers affect our ideas and behavior were fascinating and I will be sharing them with my children probably over and over again to hopefully inoculate them from some of it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Val Robson

    I struggled with this book as it seemed repetitive at times. The basic tenet being that if you are sociable and interact thoughtfully with others in a fun and meaningful way then you are likely to be a popular person. These type of self-help books tend to be quite formulaic in that they talk a lot about research which is then interspersed with anecdotes. I found the anecdotes of interest in general but some of the research I found dull. I am also always suspicious about who is doing the research I struggled with this book as it seemed repetitive at times. The basic tenet being that if you are sociable and interact thoughtfully with others in a fun and meaningful way then you are likely to be a popular person. These type of self-help books tend to be quite formulaic in that they talk a lot about research which is then interspersed with anecdotes. I found the anecdotes of interest in general but some of the research I found dull. I am also always suspicious about who is doing the research and in what conditions? Plus who is funding it and do they have an agenda in doing so? There were some section on the physiology of the brain which I found hard to follow as I am not a medic so it wasn't really making a lot of sense to me. It seems that is you are introverted and quiet, or are simply a little awkward at social situations, you are doomed to be unpopular. It all made a little depressing reading really as there was no real tangible advice in how to become popular or how to help your children be popular. And does being popular matter anyway? The implication was that if you are not popular you are unhappy but I'm not sure I subscribe to that way of thinking. Some of the later chapters referred to experiments where people choose which things they liked. If the things to choose had 'Facebook likes' and similar already against them they were far more likely to be popular with the person choosing than if there were no clues as to what others felt. There was clear evidence that we are more likely to 'like' something if others do. I found that idea interesting and would like to see more written about this now we are all so influenced by the opinions of others via social media and the press. The BBC News publish 'Most Watched' and 'Most Read' lists on their website which doubtless influences their readers. This is maybe a good book for a book club to read and discuss but I did find it a little dry and hard-going. I note that on Amazon.com (as opposed to Amazon.co.uk) it has 15 reviews which are all 5 stars. Either the author has a lots of fans or the American audience genuinely like this a lot compared to us Brits. With thanks to NetGalley and Ebury Publishing/ Penguin Random House UK for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Daniela Teixeira

    I received an ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All throughout the reading of this book so many thoughts crossed my mind, over and over… “OMG, I hope this book is published in Portuguese soon. I’ll buy so many copies to gift friends” “OMG, this is exactly what happened last week at work!” “OMG, that’s me you’re describing right there!” Several OMGs were employed in the reading of this book. Really. This is my kind of personal development book. It’s heavy on the scie I received an ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All throughout the reading of this book so many thoughts crossed my mind, over and over… “OMG, I hope this book is published in Portuguese soon. I’ll buy so many copies to gift friends” “OMG, this is exactly what happened last week at work!” “OMG, that’s me you’re describing right there!” Several OMGs were employed in the reading of this book. Really. This is my kind of personal development book. It’s heavy on the science research, but it does a great job relating all of it with real life cases. According to the author, there are two kinds of popularity: status-based and likability-based. The book goes on to prove that likability-based is the kind of popularity that has better effects on people in the long run. The first 2/3 of the book build the concept of popularity, how it happens and what it does to people. The last part deals with what we can do to improve our popularity standing and how to help our kids to succeed in this aspect of life. I rarely re-read a book, but I think this will be one exception. There will always be development to be made in this aspect of my life and I think Mitch Prinstein would be the perfect coach to help me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amirah Jiwa

    I rarely buy social science nonfiction books no matter how interesting they look because they always seem to be reduced to the same formula—ideas, supporting anecdotes, backed up by research—that I feel like would be better summed up in a long article, than a full-size book. 'Popular' is no different in this regard. The key idea—that there are two types of popularity, status and likability, that that we generally aspire to status when we should be aiming for likability, which is what makes us ha I rarely buy social science nonfiction books no matter how interesting they look because they always seem to be reduced to the same formula—ideas, supporting anecdotes, backed up by research—that I feel like would be better summed up in a long article, than a full-size book. 'Popular' is no different in this regard. The key idea—that there are two types of popularity, status and likability, that that we generally aspire to status when we should be aiming for likability, which is what makes us happier and more successful—is introduced within the first few chapters and then needlessly (in my opinion) backed up with a slew of uninspiring examples. There is then some additional analysis of research squeezed into the last third of the book to make the points that (1) how popular we are affects how we interpret what we experience (cue encoding), and (2) how popular we are may be linked to how popular our parents were. While accessible, engaging, and relatively insightful, the thesis here was not worthy of book-length analysis. NB: I received an ARC of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Smith Atkins

    This book was great. I read it along side, "So you have been publicly shamed" and they were significant companion books. I did not have high expectations of this book but the last disc was a sweet wrap up. This content is great for discussion in a book club. It helped me reflect on my work clan and myself. I highly recommend. This book was great. I read it along side, "So you have been publicly shamed" and they were significant companion books. I did not have high expectations of this book but the last disc was a sweet wrap up. This content is great for discussion in a book club. It helped me reflect on my work clan and myself. I highly recommend.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Two kinds of Popularity 1. Likeability - this is the good kind 2. Status - this is the middle & high school kind that can cause problems throughout life We focus on people with status, our brains are wired to believe there are social rewards to having or being connected to those with high status. There is something about status that naturally lowers our inhibitions (social media magnifies this exponentially). Adolescents base self-esteem on reflected appraisal, or how they perceive others think of Two kinds of Popularity 1. Likeability - this is the good kind 2. Status - this is the middle & high school kind that can cause problems throughout life We focus on people with status, our brains are wired to believe there are social rewards to having or being connected to those with high status. There is something about status that naturally lowers our inhibitions (social media magnifies this exponentially). Adolescents base self-esteem on reflected appraisal, or how they perceive others think of them - self-concept is fully dictated by how peers treat them. Interactions, whether with friends or strangers, have a transactional component. If we provide "good energy" to the conversation, the other person is more likely to be positive, which comes full-circle and impacts us. The same is true with negative energy. Make the choice to be positive. Even likeable people can have difficulties in relationships if they become "reassurance-seeking." It can cause friends to pull back and thus become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Social media - when posts are popular (even if they are given "likes" artificially for experiment purposes), adolescents were dramatically more likely to "like" the picture themselves. Simply seeing the number of likes reduced prefrontal cortex activity, releasing the brain's brakes. The more we value status, the more our ability to distinguish between good and bad may be compromised. We cannot let popularity become the only value that matters. One factor that strongly predicts who will be popular and who will be rejected is whether children are raised in an aggressive social environment. Easiest way to measure this is to ask parents to talk about their child for 5 mins. More critical = more aggressive social environment. Children who form stable attachments to their parents are generally on the right track. Prioritize likability over status means cultivating relationships, choosing to help our peers rather than just focusing on our own needs, and showing more interest in others rather than vying for more attention and power. It also requires self-reflection, to understand our biases in basic perceptions and assumptions. Not easy, but very important in the long run.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eli

    Popular seems to me like a self-help book without the help. Though he bills it as new, revolutionary, and vital, Prinstein's work seems to boil down to the conclusion that (1) it is better to be liked than not liked, and (2) that doesn't necessarily have to do with how much power you have over others. This discovery, backed up by questionable scientific methods and a lot of anecdotes about white men, apparently entitles Mitch to prescribe likability as a panacea for our age. It will make you hap Popular seems to me like a self-help book without the help. Though he bills it as new, revolutionary, and vital, Prinstein's work seems to boil down to the conclusion that (1) it is better to be liked than not liked, and (2) that doesn't necessarily have to do with how much power you have over others. This discovery, backed up by questionable scientific methods and a lot of anecdotes about white men, apparently entitles Mitch to prescribe likability as a panacea for our age. It will make you happier and more successful! It will make your children happier and more successful! And Mitch can tell you how to achieve it!... except, he can't. His advice for how to be a likable person is limited to such vague commonplaces as "cultivate relationships more than 'likes.'" And then, to top it all off, he had the gall to reiterate the tired, trivializing cliché that having written a book he "now know[s] what it feels like to be pregnant," when just the other day I read this McSweeney's article. Thanks for your work, Professor Prinstein, but I won't be taking one of your classes.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marsha

    I was disappointed in this book. There were some interesting studies noted but I did not find any valuable information. The implication is that likability and popularity equate to happiness and then no guidance is give on how to get there. I don’t agree with that premise so my view was a bit jaded. I think personal relationships and purpose have more to do with happiness than popularity. Not really worth the time to read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    This book was pretty good. I wish it had more concrete examples. It wasn't the most exciting book to get through, but shared a lot of interesting, scientifically-based concepts on popularity. The part on parenting was particularly interesting and useful. This book was pretty good. I wish it had more concrete examples. It wasn't the most exciting book to get through, but shared a lot of interesting, scientifically-based concepts on popularity. The part on parenting was particularly interesting and useful.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    I have better ways to spend my time and so do you. In a nutshell work to be likeable. Then life will be sweet(er).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    A psychology professor describes his and others' research on popularity. There are two types: status and likability. Often the people with high status are not very liked or likable. Trying to become more likable often has lifelong benefits, and trying to gain higher status can lead to some material rewards and feelings of power but ultimately can be destructive psychologically. I would love to know what business leaders think of this book. They might call it ridiculous and say it's sour grapes. A psychology professor describes his and others' research on popularity. There are two types: status and likability. Often the people with high status are not very liked or likable. Trying to become more likable often has lifelong benefits, and trying to gain higher status can lead to some material rewards and feelings of power but ultimately can be destructive psychologically. I would love to know what business leaders think of this book. They might call it ridiculous and say it's sour grapes. But I found it interesting and useful. I like the author's simple, clear writing style. I thought, "Why would someone devote his entire career to researching popularity?" Then at the end of the book he described something that had happened to him when he was in high school, and I thought, "Oh, THAT'S why." Unfortunately, in our status-obsessed world, if you are a male who starts wearing bifocals at age five and doesn't weigh over 100 pounds until your sophomore year in college, you will probably not be popular in high school.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisl Hass

    A good read for parents or future parents This book provided some good suggestions for parents about how to help their children become better citizens, more equipped to navigate social relationships, although I think this could have gone deeper. I think certain research discussed to support some arguments through the book did not clearly make the points the author sought to make. Generally an interesting read, particularly in reflecting back on my own experiences and those of my child.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    This was an interesting although disjointed at times read. It made me laugh as I do have people who LIKE everything I post on Instagram/Twitter.etc/ and get upset when I do not like their posts back ... that cuts into my reading time :-) (what movie was that in? Bad Moms?? not that that matters but it is now DRIVING ME CRAZY that I do not remember what movie that was in....) I love social media as it keeps me in touch with my friends from far away .. but this book is very telling. Scary. Yikes ... This was an interesting although disjointed at times read. It made me laugh as I do have people who LIKE everything I post on Instagram/Twitter.etc/ and get upset when I do not like their posts back ... that cuts into my reading time :-) (what movie was that in? Bad Moms?? not that that matters but it is now DRIVING ME CRAZY that I do not remember what movie that was in....) I love social media as it keeps me in touch with my friends from far away .. but this book is very telling. Scary. Yikes ... I am so glad that I am NOT a teenager again in this age of digital media.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    My internet therapist recommended this book to me. And then I stopped seeing her.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kieran

    There are tidbits of useful information in here, but honestly this seems more like something catered to parents who want to help their kids or are vaguely interested in the concept of psychology. Nothing is really cited well and the author consistently puts correlation equal to causation. His writing style is pretty interesting, but I wouldn't exactly reccomend this as an educational read. Mitch is a genius professor and psychologist, just not sure this book is the best display of that. There are tidbits of useful information in here, but honestly this seems more like something catered to parents who want to help their kids or are vaguely interested in the concept of psychology. Nothing is really cited well and the author consistently puts correlation equal to causation. His writing style is pretty interesting, but I wouldn't exactly reccomend this as an educational read. Mitch is a genius professor and psychologist, just not sure this book is the best display of that.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cyndie Courtney

    A short, easy read that applies to a lot of people for a lot of reasons. Fundamentally all of us have been shaped by our experiences of status whether we had it or not. More importantly, this book addresses the difference between likeability and status and how blending or confusing the two - particularly if we choosing to focus on status versus likeability can ultimately make us less healthy and less happy over the course of our lives. Great information for anyone who interacts with other human A short, easy read that applies to a lot of people for a lot of reasons. Fundamentally all of us have been shaped by our experiences of status whether we had it or not. More importantly, this book addresses the difference between likeability and status and how blending or confusing the two - particularly if we choosing to focus on status versus likeability can ultimately make us less healthy and less happy over the course of our lives. Great information for anyone who interacts with other human beings (so... everyone.)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Blakeman

    Sometimes you just need to realize that a whole genre of writing just isn't for you. That's what I now realize about psychology books. They always sound so interesting in author interviews but are often a little flat to read. I heard the author interviewed on NPR and was looking forward to reading this but it seemed like it had a magazine article's worth of content. The themes felt repetitive and not particularly well structured. He talked around a lot of concepts but it was difficult to know wh Sometimes you just need to realize that a whole genre of writing just isn't for you. That's what I now realize about psychology books. They always sound so interesting in author interviews but are often a little flat to read. I heard the author interviewed on NPR and was looking forward to reading this but it seemed like it had a magazine article's worth of content. The themes felt repetitive and not particularly well structured. He talked around a lot of concepts but it was difficult to know what to take away from it as the reader. Lots of discussion of academic journal research, but that too felt meh. The parenting chapter was one of the most engaging but that could have to do with overhearing the mother yelling at her kid while I was reading this on the beach. In sum it was an OK book but nothing remarkable. Wandered aimlessly for far too many pages for my taste.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Scott Wozniak

    Solid summary of the ways that being likable shapes our lives, in childhood and adulthood. It's written by a professor who has been doing social studies and teaching classes on this topic for years, so it's got a college-class-like structure in that each chapter covers a new setting or a new big idea. So, lot's of ideas in this book rather than a single thesis driving every chapter. Solid summary of the ways that being likable shapes our lives, in childhood and adulthood. It's written by a professor who has been doing social studies and teaching classes on this topic for years, so it's got a college-class-like structure in that each chapter covers a new setting or a new big idea. So, lot's of ideas in this book rather than a single thesis driving every chapter.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Klement

    Very enlightening on the power of likability. It really impressed on me its importance. However, the book never really described in detail exactly HOW to obtain this likability. For that, I would recommend other books like "How to Win Friends and Influence People", which is actually probably the perfect follow-up book to this. Still, great book and very informative! Very enlightening on the power of likability. It really impressed on me its importance. However, the book never really described in detail exactly HOW to obtain this likability. For that, I would recommend other books like "How to Win Friends and Influence People", which is actually probably the perfect follow-up book to this. Still, great book and very informative!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ketti

    So much interesting information and research in this book, lots to think about and process. Prinstein states, “You have a choice, you can allow instincts to direct you toward status or toward likeability. Choosing likability is not always an easy option in a world so obsessed with status.” I appreciate how this book helped me to do some serious self-reflection. Prinstein reminds the reader that we have all had moments of humiliation, and that we didn’t leave those injuries back in our adolesce So much interesting information and research in this book, lots to think about and process. Prinstein states, “You have a choice, you can allow instincts to direct you toward status or toward likeability. Choosing likability is not always an easy option in a world so obsessed with status.” I appreciate how this book helped me to do some serious self-reflection. Prinstein reminds the reader that we have all had moments of humiliation, and that we didn’t leave those injuries back in our adolescence. As I read this book I recalled some of those ‘unpopular’ experiences in my life. One day while in high school I took my coat off and placed it on a hook outside the classroom. After class I grabbed my coat and went on with my day. It wasn’t until evening that as I was preparing to go to the high school football game that I reached into the pocket of my coat to find an anonymous note. Someone had taken the time and effort to write me a note on an entire roll of DYMO tape. Forty years later and I can still clearly recall some of the mean spirited words of that note. I am grateful that I had two loving parents who worked through this experience with me. As hot tears rolled down my face, my father held me. I didn’t want to go to the game, of course; so difficult knowing that one of my ‘friends’ had left me this note. My father convinced to hold my head high and not let someone else’s words hurt me. Favorite quotes – Pg. 205 “Have you and a friend ever experienced a stressful event and both walked away with a completely different reaction to it? That happens all the time, and it’s due to the fact that what we feel about a given situation has much less to do with what actually happens to us than it does with what we think about what took place.”

  26. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Lambert

    I chose this book mainly because it was the freshman reading for UNC this summer and it seemed like an excellent choice for that age group. If their reaction was anything like mine, I would be seeking counselling services right now, assuming they made it to the end. As is probably evident by the time it took me to complete the book, it wasn't a book I romped through. BUT I did finish it. In brief, it was more of a extended paper to me than a book. I get the distinction between popluar/status and I chose this book mainly because it was the freshman reading for UNC this summer and it seemed like an excellent choice for that age group. If their reaction was anything like mine, I would be seeking counselling services right now, assuming they made it to the end. As is probably evident by the time it took me to complete the book, it wasn't a book I romped through. BUT I did finish it. In brief, it was more of a extended paper to me than a book. I get the distinction between popluar/status and popular/likeable but isn't it a lot more complex than that? As I read, I kept thinking about all the elements that go into the way adults interact with each other. It is incredibly complex. Were the insights he shared helpful? Somewhat but I don't feel that he offered enough suggestions for how to seize control of the teen trajectory (if that was his audience) beyond spending less time on social media. Certainly blaming your parents is not the answer! A single chapter of advice at the end was inadequate. Those poor UNC freshmen...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bilal

    This is a book about being popular, either from having a higher/dominant social status or from being likeable. I liked the book. It is accessible and covers the topic from most angles, except perhaps if anything about being popular is different between genders. After having read it, it seems to me that the causes and effects of being happy are essentially the same as those of being likeable. In the beginning Prinstein informs us that being liked and being disliked are independent personality para This is a book about being popular, either from having a higher/dominant social status or from being likeable. I liked the book. It is accessible and covers the topic from most angles, except perhaps if anything about being popular is different between genders. After having read it, it seems to me that the causes and effects of being happy are essentially the same as those of being likeable. In the beginning Prinstein informs us that being liked and being disliked are independent personality parameters in the sense that, for example, one can be most liked and most disliked at the same time. This observation leads us to the two-by-two matrix of sociometric grouping across these two parameters, which helps to identify personalities as accepted, rejected, controversial, neglected, and average. This is a helpful. Prinstein informs us that at around puberty our bodies prepare us to become autonomous, i.e., they help us separate from our parents and become more interested in our peers. Our pubertal hormones stimulate the neurons in the brain region called ventral striatum to grow additional receptors for neurotransmitters oxytocin and dopamine. Oxytocin increases our desire to connect and bond with our peers. Dopamine produces the pleasure response. Together these two make us seek feedback that makes us feel admired among peers. Ventral striatum is part of a group of regions called the “motivational relevance network”. These regions work together to translate our likes into strong motivations to get, i.e., to pursue more of what feels good. From neuroscience, he switches over to DNA. He states that, for example, there is an immediate impact of social rejection on the DNA, specifically that within minutes of social rejection the effects can be seen in our blood’s DNA in the form of a few dozen genes having been either turned on or off, which in turn affects our immune system, our viral protection, etc. Fascinating! In the chapter on parenting for popularity he informs us that mothers with memories of hostile experiences in childhood end up having children who are also unpopular among their peers, while mothers whose own childhood peer experiences were positive have children with above average popularity among their peers, and mothers with anxious or lonely memories of childhood peer experiences have children who are either of average popularity or in some cases just as well liked as children of mothers who were popular as kids. Essentially, mothers’ “social framing” directly affects their children’s popularity among their peers. Makes sense but fascinating all the same! Genes affect popularity too, very much so: Attractive children are more popular, both in status/dominance, and in likability. What constitutes attractiveness? I knew that attractive faces have quite a bit to do with being symmetric, but I couldn’t quantify what else constitutes an attractive face: Prinstein informs us that attractive faces are also more typical or average in the sense that when different faces are digitally combined, the composite is deemed more attractive than the individual faces, even if all the individual faces were already very attractive. Fascinating again! He briefly explores also the effects of childhood developmental environment, and the findings here are what one would expect having read this far into the book. A most important topic that he discussed somewhere in the second half of the book is about how our attitudes (mostly automatic) reflect back from the people we interact with to affect and reinforce our own likeability. This is the transactional model—the chain reaction involving how others act towards us, how we behave in response, and how those responses in turn elicit new behaviors among others all day, every day, for our entire life. The give-and-take between what we put into the world and how everyone responds to it. Therefore, despite the adverse factors, one can in fact exert control over one’s likeability, and in turn one’s happiness.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Elite Group

    An interesting examination of popularity and how it affects our lives and happiness What does it mean to be popular? A leading psychologist in the field examines what we mean by popularity, explains the difference between ‘status’ and ‘likeability’ and the effects that achieving each have in our lives and puts forward the idea that desiring popularity is an integral part of the human psyche that better prepares us to live happily and fulfilled lives. He also discusses the far-reaching impact that An interesting examination of popularity and how it affects our lives and happiness What does it mean to be popular? A leading psychologist in the field examines what we mean by popularity, explains the difference between ‘status’ and ‘likeability’ and the effects that achieving each have in our lives and puts forward the idea that desiring popularity is an integral part of the human psyche that better prepares us to live happily and fulfilled lives. He also discusses the far-reaching impact that being popular as a child can have on us in later life and how parents can influence their children’s popularity and possible future happiness. Finally, he encourages us to make efforts to attain the ‘good’ kinds of popularity in order to improve our careers, relationships and overall lives. Clearly well-researched and analysed, Popular is a combination of research findings and anecdotes woven together to create an easy-to-read report on all aspects of popularity. It discusses how being popular can benefit us and improve our lives and also how it can negatively affect us – for example, placing too much value on concepts such as ‘likes’ on social media can lead to depression and impaired socialising. The author writes in an engaging and accessible style that avoids over-technical language and explains complicated psychological concepts in a simple to understand terms, making this book manageable for readers from a wide variety of non-scientific backgrounds. He describes many interesting experiments, including some that demonstrate children of a very young age who are identified as being likeable by their peers (and hence, popular) are more likely to do better in school, have healthier relationships and achieve more in life. Other interesting concepts touched on by this book include the idea that children may mimic their parents behaviours which influence their popularity and also the idea that popularity in the form of ‘status’ (being talked about or well-known) can lead to feelings of isolation and depression in the long term, such as is experienced by many celebrities. However, whilst all the ideas in this book were interesting, I found that some of the conclusions put forward in this book were a little narrow-minded and, from a scientific point of view, a few oversimplifications were made with an occasional lack of distinction between correlation and causation. The author talks about five popularity ‘types’ identified in children, which is an interesting concept, but goes on to form generalisations based on them which, whilst believable, would probably not stand up to rigorous scientific testing. I also found that the concept of likeability being desirable could be interpreted to mean that an ideal world is one where everyone ‘likes’ each other – to me, this seems like it would be both dull and also defer progress brought on by debate and disagreement. As well as this, being ‘likeable’ on the surface can quite often be false or conceal a less agreeable personality within and the author fails to touch on this concept at all throughout the book. Despite a few issues, I would recommend Popular to anyone who has an interest in psychology or is intrigued by the concept of popularity, although it may be a bit depressing to those who weren’t one of the ‘cool kids’ at school or don’t feel as if they’re incredibly popular now. Although it is not exactly a self-help book, Popular does give out some helpful advice on how to be more likeable which, whilst fairly simple, is worth keeping in mind. Daenerys Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    We grow up thinking that the term 'popular' is an umbrella that covers an all-encompassing territory. You are either popular, or you aren't. You either fit in, or you don't. As little kids and as teenagers, we really don't weigh the factors that promote or bring about popularity. We just know who 'is' and who 'isn't.' Modern teenagers have a sense that money and an attractive appearance correlates with popularity, and this view is increasingly reinforced throughout social media and celebrity cul We grow up thinking that the term 'popular' is an umbrella that covers an all-encompassing territory. You are either popular, or you aren't. You either fit in, or you don't. As little kids and as teenagers, we really don't weigh the factors that promote or bring about popularity. We just know who 'is' and who 'isn't.' Modern teenagers have a sense that money and an attractive appearance correlates with popularity, and this view is increasingly reinforced throughout social media and celebrity culture. However, although these are definitely factors that can lead to becoming popular, they are by no means the only factors that count towards maintaining popularity. The author breaks down popularity into two different types - status versus likability. Both status and likability will result in a person being popular, but one has a long-enduring positive impact on a person's life, and the other often leads to disappointing or unhealthy outcomes (addiction, broken relationships). Take a guess at which one leads to which outcome?! I found this book refreshing because it explores some long-standing myths about popularity - namely, that popularity in your teenage years will provide you with the foundation for a successful adult life. Additionally, it was fascinating to read about how individuals can repeat patterns, no matter the circumstances. The author argues that individuals who are Rejected (in this case, individuals who are unlikable or disagreeable and can't get along with others) will, in fact, be rejected everywhere they go. The belief that changing our environment will undoubtedly change the outcome isn't necessarily true. Rejected individuals can move schools if they are bullied, change jobs if they can't get along with their co-workers - but ultimately, changing the environment doesn't change a person's likability or how others react to them. The author breaks down likability into some main components or traits, which are noteworthy. Likable people are well-adjusted, smart, frequently in a good mood, good at conversation but not overly talkative (turn-taking), and good at solving social problems. Most importantly, likable people don't disrupt the group. What was perhaps most interesting to me during the reading of this book was that I kept trying to place myself on the invisible 'popular scale.' How did I fare in high school? How do I stack up at work? I would say I'm not unpopular, but not completely likable because of my desire to disrupt the group (when I think the group's way is 'stupid'). I'll go along with things, until I think the group is wrong or individuals in the group are not being polite, fair, or ethical. I guess that means I probably won't be super likable or popular, but the book is helpful because it gives readers a frame of reference for improving their likable qualities should they desire to. It would've been cool if the author had included a quiz or some type of self-assessment tool so that the reader can rate their own popularity (there is a quiz on his website, but it's not very detailed). Overall, a very interesting and thought-provoking read. As a teacher, I benefited from looking at popularity from a new angle, and this book may very well change how I interact with students. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested in the 'self help' genre or who would like to work on self-confidence and communication.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mòrag

    I've got a little of a (completely non-sordid) confession to make. When I return back to Aberdeen I'm always asked "was it nice catching up with your friends/did you go for a night out?". I mutter off an awkward spiel about some of my friends now having children, some friends also moved away else where etc etc. That is only a half truth. The full truth is, while some friends have had kids and also moved on past my childhood village, I wasn't popular at high school and didn't really have a big fr I've got a little of a (completely non-sordid) confession to make. When I return back to Aberdeen I'm always asked "was it nice catching up with your friends/did you go for a night out?". I mutter off an awkward spiel about some of my friends now having children, some friends also moved away else where etc etc. That is only a half truth. The full truth is, while some friends have had kids and also moved on past my childhood village, I wasn't popular at high school and didn't really have a big friends group to hang out with in the first place. For some reason I don't feel comfortable being honest about this, despite having grown into a likeable mid-20s woman who does have a solid friends group that was build post-school. But Mitch Pristein's book focuses on exactly this kind of thinking: how our popularity at school effects us as adults (and a few tips on un-doing the baggage). There was nothing in this book that particularly surprised me. I'm someone who was unpopular at school but seems to have done well in adult life largely because I woke up one day, identified the reasons why I had been not widely likeable at school, and strove to fix them. I do live as proof that someone's social status at school doesn't have to carry on into adult life, but that you do need to take active steps to re-wire your outlook, social skills and emotional intelligence (and, in some cases, no longer being caught in the constraints that your maybe-not-cool parents set for you, such as an early curfew and not buying you a car). Saying that, it is nice to have a professional psychologist confirm that my hunches on popularity and peer relations had largely been correct. But throughout his pages, he shared examples of the way popularity effects us as adults that I hadn't considered, and they made me realise that I still have some self-confidence issues that stem from my unpopular childhood that I need to shred. Overall, I only knocked off a star because I kind of already knew most of it anyway and felt it could have been a bit more in-depth (I personally would love for him to write a self-development book that focuses on how to avoid continuing the cycle of low-likeability and low social status post school).

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