Same-Gender and Cross-Gender Likeability: Associations with Popularity and Status Enhancement. The TRAILS Study
This study examined the associations of popularity, substance use, athletic abilities, physical attractiveness, and physical and relational aggression with likeability by same-gender and cross-gender peers among early adolescents (N = 3312; M age = 13.60, with 92.7% of the participants in the 12-14 age range).The direction and strength of these associations were tested as well as whether they were moderated by popularity. Data collection consisted of peer nominations in 172 classrooms of 34 secondary schools. Taking a goal-framing perspective, we argued that key to understanding the association between popularity and likeability is the distinction between features that help to achieve popularity, and features that help to maintain popularity. In support of our hypotheses, popularity and substance use, athletic abilities, and physical attractiveness (characteristics that help to become popular) contributed significantly to likeability, whereas physical and relational aggression (characteristics that help to maintain popularity) negatively predicted likeability. These specific nature of these effects depended on the reference group (same-gender vs. other-gender peers), and were further moderated by popularity.