Bullying Makes You Popular, But Not the MOST Popular

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Photo: MTV

According to a new study just reported by the Times, social aggression in high school does correlate to an increased position on the popularity ladder. (No surprise there.) But that only holds true to a point:

They found that increases in social status were associated with subsequent increases in aggression. But notably, aggressive behavior peaked at the 98th percentile of popularity and then dropped. “At the very top you start to see a reversal — the kids in the top 2 percent are less likely to be aggressive,” [study author Dr. Robert. Faris] said. “The interpretation I favor is that they no longer need to be aggressive because they’re at the top, and further aggression could be counterproductive, signaling insecurity with their social position."

"It's possible that they’re incredibly friendly and everybody loves them and they were never mean," Faris continued. "But I'm not so convinced by that, because there are so many kids right behind them in the hierarchy who are highly aggressive." In Intel's experience, it's a mix of both — there truly are people who are nice who end up being the most popular, even if they're in the minority. But what do we know — when most of us were in high school, our version of MTV's Skins was called Daria.

Web of Popularity, Achieved by Bullying [NYT]