Who is Popular in Early Adolescence? The Relationship between Perceived Popularity and Gender and Loneliness

Vanja PUTAREK, Gordana KERESTEŠ

Abstract


Adolescence is a developmental period of heightened importance of the individual’s position within a group of peers, traditionally measured by affective sociometry. Recently, researchers have emphasized the necessity of distinguishing popularity defined by affective sociometry from perceived popularity measured by judgmental sociometry in which group members give the direct estimation of popularity of other group members. While numerous studies about the predictors and correlates of classical sociometric popularity exist, factors associated with perceived popularity are poorly explored. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between perceived popularity and gender of both the assessor and the assessed person as well as loneliness in early adolescence. The participants were 290 elementary school pupils from the sixth and seventh grades. Data were collected by the Sociometric Questionnaire of Perceived Popularity and UCLA Loneliness Scale (Version 3). The study showed that boys perceived other boys as more popular than girls, whereas girls perceived other girls as more popular than boys. This gender bias was more pronounced among boys. Low popular students of both genders were more lonely than average and high popular students, while differences in loneliness between average and high popular students were not found. Gender did not moderate the relationship of perceived popularity and loneliness. The obtained results can help in the prevention of emotional and behavioral problems related to difficulties in interpersonal relationships.

Keywords


perceived popularity; early adolescence; gender differences; loneliness

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Print ISSN 1330-0288 | Online ISSN 1848-6096