Science has some bad news for people who were popular in high school
I’m so glad my mom never bought me those Uggs
by Katie Way
Nerds, theater kids and cross country runners, your vindication is here.
A longitudinal (read: long-term) study published in August revealed a correlation between people who were perceived as "popular" in their teenage years and social anxiety later in life.
Child Development published the study, which followed 146 subjects from age 15 to age 25 and measured their experiences with depression, self-worth and social anxiety throughout that time period.
Love to ask yoga instructors if they were popular in high school and watch their faces as they lie
— Andrea More (@amore_orless) September 7, 2017
Students who ranked highest among their peers in terms of "affiliation preference," also known as the cool kids, actually reported higher rates of social anxiety by the time they were 25.
The most popular 15-year-olds didn't even seem to enjoy their big fish, small pond star power while they had it, according to the data. "Peer affiliation preference, however, did not predict short-term changes in internalizing symptoms," according to the study's discussion section. This suggests that the popularity of the well-liked high schoolers did not equip them to better weather the mental health challenges that come with being a raging ball of hormones with an Instagram account.
What did help subjects, both in the short and long term was the number of close friendships they formed during their high school years.
Students whose best friends testified to the closeness of their relationships were more likely to report heightened self-worth from ages 15 to 16, and lower rates of social anxiety and depressive symptoms in the long term by the time they were in their mid-20s.
Anyone who says "popularity in high school doesn't mean anything" clearly has never seen the likes a popular girl gets for a shit tweet.
— Dan LaMorte (@DanLaMorte) September 2, 2017
"The current findings suggest the possibility that a strong close friendship provides not only a protective function, as shown by the earlier study, but potentially a promotional one as well for how one sees oneself as an individual," the discussion section said.
So if your campaign for prom queen flopped or you didn't get quite as many signatures in your yearbook as you wanted, don't fret — your best friends might be all you need to help you navigate through the minefield of adolescence relatively unscathed.
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