The Childhood Personality Trait That Makes You Popular

The trait is intrinsically rewarding.

The trait is intrinsically rewarding.

Being fun is the childhood personality trait that makes kids popular, research shows.

Children rated as more fun tend to have more classmates who like them and more who rate them as popular.

Those rated as fun accrue a higher status among their peers which leads to more opportunities since fun kids tend to group together to practice their skills.

Professor Brett Laursen, the study’s first author, said:

“We had good reasons to suspect that being fun would uniquely contribute to a child’s social status.

Obviously, fun is intrinsically rewarding.

Fun peers are rewarding companions and rewarding companions enjoy higher social status than non-rewarding companions.

But the benefits of fun probably extend well beyond their immediate rewards.

Fun experiences provide positive stimulation that promotes creativity.

Being fun can protect against rejection insofar as it raises the child’s worth to the group and minimizes the prospect that others will habituate to the child’s presence.

Finally, changes in the brain in the early middle school years increase the salience of rewards derived from novelty, in general, and fun, in particular.

Children and adolescents are, quite literally, fun-seekers.”

The study included 1,573 children aged 9-12 who were asked to rate their peers likeability, popularity and how fun they were.

The results revealed that being fun was central to who was liked and popular.

Being fun makes children more rewarding companions, said Professor Laursen:

“One potential combination is surgency and ego resilience, which make the child a novel and exciting companion.

Fun children are probably also socially adept, and have high levels of perspective-taking and social skills.”

Being well-liked is a very handy trait, said Professor Laursen:

“Well-liked children present few adjustment difficulties and tend to succeed where others do not.

Popularity is highly coveted by children and adolescents; many value it above being liked.”

The study was published in the Journal of Personality (Laursen et al., 2020).

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This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.

It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.

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Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.