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Happy Mind, Happy Life: 10 Simple Ways to Feel Great Every Day. A science-backed guide to a calmer, happier you.

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Why Being Popular Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be with Professor Mitch Prinstein

by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee   /  October 31, 2018

Who doesn’t want to be more popular? Leading psychologist, Professor Mitch Prinstein explains why perhaps we should be careful what we wish for… More than childhood intelligence, family background, or prior psychological issues, research indicates that it’s how popular we were in our early years that predicts how successful and how happy we grow up to be. But it’s not always the conventionally popular people who fare the best, for the simple reason that there is more than one type of popularity: the first based on status and the second based on likeability. Although we are hardwired to crave status, research indicates that this type of popularity hurts us more than we realise. In fact, research shows that people who were popular in high school were more likely to suffer from addictions, problems in relationships and had a higher risk of depression, anxiety and loneliness in later life.

We discuss how popularity taps into our basic need to survive and examine the surprising links to our health and lifespan, offering important insights for all of us about how we can cultivate the right kind of popularity. This conversation is more relevant today than ever before. In a world that pushes us to pursue power, and click our way to online status, it has become too easy to be lured towards a type of popularity that can harm us, and our children.  This is a truly eye-opening conversation – I hope you enjoy it!

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Episode Highlights:

  • What is the different between ‘popularity’ and ‘likeability’?
  • Can we change our likeability?
  • Hear how the fear of rejection can affect our likeability.
  • Hear how ‘popular’ children are most likely to suffer from addiction, problems in relationships and have a higher risk of depression, anxiety & loneliness in later life.
  • How has the social nature of the human race meant we have been able to thrive and dominate over other species?
  • Mitch & Rangan reference Professor George Slavich’s publications.
  • How can social rejection cause an inflammation response and reduction in immunity in our bodies?
  • Mitch explains how we now know that when we experience social rejection our brain responds as if we have experienced physical pain.
  • What factors have contributed to the increase in desire for popularity over the last 30 years?
  • How has Mitch seen that social media can have an effect on our mental health?
  • Hear how Mitch now sees adolescents in the US utilise social media today.
  • Mitch gives some advice for adults and children using social media and asks, ‘Are you posting for status or likeability?’
  • How does Mitch suggest using social media to perpetuate good connections?
  • What has Mitch found that celebrities often crave in comparison to non-celebrities?
  • What are Mitch’s top tips?
'We are biologically programmed to care what others think of us.' Click To Tweet

Find out more about Mitch:

Website   Twitter   Facebook

Mitch’s books:

The Popularity Illusion: Why status is toxic but likeability wins all

Popular: Finding Happiness and Success in a World That Cares Too Much about the Wrong Kinds of Relationships

Further learning:

Dr Chatterjee’s resources:


DISCLAIMER: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee MbChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP, MRCGP