Does how popular you were in high school affect how much money you make later in life?

The answer is an affirmative. Causality is hard to determine for sure. The initial response of skeptics is that it has to do with extroversion, but they found no effect on the basis of gregariousness. That makes sense. Nerds and introverts make too much of the role of introversion in popularity. Some people are very extroverted and very annoying. Some people that are unpopular that people think are introverted really just won’t shut up when they’re in a position where everything they say will be used against them.

I think that it comes down to social confidence and charisma. People that are used to getting what they want from other people ask for more and in turn get more. The charisma that comes with popularity is always a career-helper. There is also the matter that some of the things that make one popular can also help one make good grades, which can have a cascading effect on future earnings. Sorta.

Category: Office, School

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6 Responses to Popularity & Success

  1. cleared in hot says:

    Also, at least in my experience, the popular people had both money and well-connected and highly-social parents.

  2. cleared in hot says:

    …and I suppose my point is that success begets success.

  3. trumwill says:

    You make an excellent point that I should have considered. Those with money are, if not universally popular, more likely to be so than those without even if the margins of wealth within a particular school are not very large.

    The connected parents thing matters to. As I’ve said on a couple of occasions, my mother’s community involvement and my father’s sports coaching helped me out considerably in grade school.

  4. stone says:

    You guys are spot on about the money. Another issue is that there are very few truly fresh starts in life. I have never once moved into a new situation — say, a job or a school — where past contacts weren’t important. So for people who’ve ever had low status, it’s very hard to put completely behind them.

    And for it to be a truly new situation, it requires that everyone else be starting from zero too, not just you. Otherwise, you’re de facto behind already.

    I remember the first day of high school — the school yard was full of everyone sitting together in knots of people from their various grade schools. Well, I didn’t have any friends there from grade school. So right off the bat, I was at a disadvantage. It took me a while to find the other people who’d been unpopular at their own grade schools, and then loser dynamics applied.

    Also, every private law firm job I had had cliques of graduates who knew each other from local law schools and had each others’ backs. So those people had support, and I didn’t. I was on my own. That made me more likely to get whatever bad stuff there was to go around. At most law firms, there’s plenty.

    In any situation where there’s unpleasantness to be had, a person standing alone (so to speak) is a much easier target.

  5. Maria says:

    My first day of high school was even worse. I’d left Catholic grade school after the 6th grade, attended public school for the 7th and 8th grades, and then went on to high school, expecting to pick up with my old Catholic school friends without missing a beat.

    In the two years I’d been gone, the social dynamics of my old crowd had completely changed, and I was an uknown quantity, whom everybody else was clearly afraid that socializing with would taint their own status. I felt extremely uncomfortable sitting at their table on the first day, and just never went back. Later on, my suspicions were confirmed when one of my oldest friends from Cathlic school snubbed me in the quad.

  6. SFG says:

    Matthew 25:29 indeed. I think it’s a positive feedback loop. Being born with advantages helps you be popular, and being popular helps you make money because most jobs (and all the good ones, except in very rare cases) require social skills.

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