Is Popularity the Key to Happiness?


According to a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies the friends you make in high school may be a larger contributor to your lifelong happiness than how well you did in class.

“The purpose of the study was to investigate the relative importance of child and adolescent social and academic pathways to well-being in adulthood (32-years) indicated by a sense of meaning, social engagement, positive coping and prosocial values.”

~A 32-Year Longitudinal Study of Child and Adolescent Pathways to Well-Being in Adulthood

The study was conducted by researchers in New Zealand and encompassed 1,037 children from three years of age to 38 years of age. Researchers found that “adolescent social connectedness was a better predictor of adult well-being than academic achievement.”

Social connectedness between the ages of 15 and 18 years of age was measured by:

  • peer social inclusiveness and cooperative playing with other children
  • confidence level
  • sharing and talking with others
  • participation in clubs and groups
  • self-perceived competencies and strengths
  • life satisfaction
Academic achievement was measured by grades.  And, well-being was measured through sense of coherence, positive coping styles, social participation and behavior.

Given these findings, one has to wonder if all of our focus on academic achievement, test scores, and getting into college is going to result in a world of less-happy adults. Perhaps it’s time to start helping high school students create a better balance between making connections and making grades.


About Debbie

After spending 32 years in marketing, Debbie now spends her time blogging, teaching online courses, doing volunteer pet therapy, and encouraging others to follow a more inspired path through life.

1 comment on “Is Popularity the Key to Happiness?

  1. Hi, Debbie –
    I resonate with this idea – using a different word in the headline.

    I’d change “popularity” to “connectedness” and agree with you 100%. Popularity, for me, has a sort of “whatever it takes” sense, rather than the “coming from your core” sense that seems central to true connectedness.

    People who connect, who feel seen, heard and grokked (That fabulous word from Stranger in a Strange Land) seem to me to be the happiest people around. And they’re the ones who are most able/willing to share who they really are with others – really see hear and grok others – so they pass it on. They’re happiness carriers.

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