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Most Popular Kids Aren't the Meanest

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A new study published in the American Sociological Review finds that kids who are the meanest (most aggressive) toward fellow classmates are ranked in the middle of the popularity scale; it appears to make no difference whether your child is most or least popular -- it's the kid in the middle of the social ladder that you have to worry about.

Mean Girls

The study, conducted by conducted by Robert W. Faris, Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of California Davis, surveyed middle and high school students in North Carolina for several years. During monitoring, aggression rate was defined as the number of classmates a student had victimized in the past three months -- including physical and verbal abuse.

"The more kids crave popularity, the more aggressive they are," says Robert Faris. "Over time, individuals at the very bottom and those at the very top of a hierarchy become the least aggressive youth."

Why are the most popular kids (top 2 percent) less aggressive? Faris says they may be genuinely nicer, but it's more likely that once they've reached the top, they have nothing to gain by being mean to peers.

"Although girls and boys victimize other students at about the same rate, girls are victimized at higher rates, both by boys and (in true "Mean Girls" fashion) by other girls," according to

Are your kids dealing with mean boys/girls? Do you suspect your kids are mean? Check out some of momlogic's mean kid coverage ...

next: It's a Boy for Cynthia Nixon & Christine Marinoni
4 comments so far | Post a comment now
XXXX February 8, 2011, 1:55 PM

They just fart more!

lee61 February 21, 2011, 4:23 PM

at my highschool the most popular kid is on of the most liked kid’s i know.
that’s how he became school presdent for the 9th grade

but what made you guy’s think that the most popular person is the meanest?

Star TV February 26, 2011, 6:00 PM

found your site on now and actually liked it.. i bookmarked it and would be back to check it out some a lot more later ..

Jamie March 11, 2011, 5:19 PM

My daughter, a 7th grader, is regarded at her school as “popular”. She is very happy and optimistic, she’ll talk to anyone, and she is on the cheerleading squad. Unfortunately, she has been getting bullied by other children because they label her as a “bully”, getting all these stereotypes from silly movies. I do think that stereotypes have taken over, and “popular” now automatically means “bully”

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