So much for the revenge of the nerds. Research suggests high school popularity may set the stage for more success later in life.
It turns out life may be a popularity contest, after all. Studies show that looks, and now high school popularity, may be reliable indicators for employees' success at work.
According to a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, people who were viewed by their classmates as popular in high school earn 2% higher wages than their peers 35 years later. The study also found a 10% wage gap 40 years later between people ranked in the 20th percentile of popularity versus those ranked in the 80th percentile.
The study uses the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study of students, which, The Wall Street Journal reports, has been conducted over a span of more than 50 years. Rather than ask students outright if they are popular, the study is based on a friend nomination system from other students. Researchers look at students' links to one another and their web of interpersonal relationships.
But what does all of this have to do with a person's success?
By adulthood, the researchers conclude, "an individual needs to have acquired and developed the appropriate social skills: understand the 'rules of the game'--how to gain acceptance and social support from colleagues, whom to trust and when to reciprocate."
Popular kids, they suggest, develop these skills early on and see these social successes mirrored later in their work lives.