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Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  906 ratings  ·  144 reviews
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

No matter how old you are, there’s a good chance that the word “popular” immediately transports you back to your teenage years. Most of us can easily recall the adolescent social cliques, the high school pecking ord
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Viking
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Laura Harrison Hi Gail! I doubt very much that this book has swear words. I recommend just going through it at a book store or library to see for yourself. p.s. The …moreHi Gail! I doubt very much that this book has swear words. I recommend just going through it at a book store or library to see for yourself. p.s. The "weird" ppl in this world are usually the most interesting and fun to be around. (less)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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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
Emily May
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, nonfiction, arc
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
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
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
Gretchen Rubin
A fascinating look at "popularity," which includes the concepts of status and likeability. ...more
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Val Robson
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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 ...more
Daniela Teixeira
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
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
Amirah Jiwa
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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 ...more
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. ...more
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
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).
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.
Lisl Hass
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 04, 2018 rated it liked it
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 ...
Aug 25, 2020 rated it liked it
My internet therapist recommended this book to me. And then I stopped seeing her.
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
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.
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 ...more
Rachel Blakeman
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Scott Wozniak
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Tyler Klement
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
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! ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Naomi Lambert
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Elite Group
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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96 likes · 15 comments
“I hope Popular will promote a reconsideration of our culture’s current relationship with popularity. Society has become fixated on status and all of its trappings—fame, power, wealth, and celebrity—even though research suggests that this is exactly what we should be avoiding if we want to foster a culture of kindness and contentment. This is concerning for all of us, but perhaps especially for today’s youth who are being raised in a society that values status in new and potentially dangerous ways.” 1 likes
“Prioritizing likability over status means choosing to help our peers rather than exclusively satisfying our own needs, showing more interest in others rather than vying for more attention and power, and cultivating relationships more than “likes.” It’s making the choice to help others feel included and welcome rather than making ourselves feel superior. Attaining the most gratifying form of popularity comes from making the effort to fit in more than trying to stand out, and from doing what we can to promote harmony rather than focusing on how to dominate others.” 0 likes
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