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Peer-Reviewed Article

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This study examined the degree to which children and adolescents prioritize popularity in the peer group over other relational domains. Participants were 1013 children and adolescents from grade 1 through senior year of college (ages 6–22 years) who were presented with a series of social dilemmas in which attaining popularity was opposed to five other priorities: friendship, personal achievement, following rules, prosocial behavior, and romantic interests. A curvilinear trend was found for the priority of popularity that peaked in early adolescence. At this age especially, participants prioritized status enhancement over other domains. Across the age range of this study, males and majority students were more preoccupied with reputational status than females and minority students. The discussion focused on the developmental functions of reputational status in early adolescence.


This research was supported by a University Faculty Grant from Sacred Heart University awarded to the first author. The authors wish to acknowledge the undergraduates at Sacred Heart University and the University of Connecticut for their invaluable assistance in collecting and entering the data. Parts of this research were presented at the 13th Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in Toronto in June 2001.