Dimensions of Social Status in Preadolescent Peer Groups: Likability, Perceived Popularity, and Social Dominance


Please address correspondence to A. Michele Lease, Department of Educational Psychology, 325 Aderhold Hall, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA. Email: mlease@coe.uga.edu


A multidimensional, interdisciplinary model of social status was developed and examined in a sample of 487 fourth, fifth, and sixth grade elementary school students. Participants were clustered into seven subtypes (i.e., High Status, Perceived Popular/Dominant, Well-Liked/Dominant, Average, Low Dominant/Unpopular, Disliked, and Low Status) based on the dimensions of likability, perceived popularity, and social dominance emphasized, respectively, by psychologists working within the sociometric tradition, sociologists of education, and ethologists. The meaningfulness of the cluster solution was supported by cluster differences on peer-reported social prerogatives of status (e.g., admiration, social control, leadership) and self-reported social characteristics. Furthermore, each cluster had a distinct behavioral profile. It was argued that a broader, multidisciplinary conceptualization of social status should lead to a better understanding of the complex dynamics present in children's peer groups in middle childhood as well as the tools preadolescents need to successfully navigate the peer system.