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Developmental Changes in the Priority of Perceived Status in Childhood and Adolescence


Kathryn M. LaFontana, Department of Psychology, Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield, CT 06825, USA. Email:


This study examined the degree to which children and adolescents prioritize popularity in the peer group over other relational domains. Participants were 1013 children and adolescents from grade 1 through senior year of college (ages 6–22 years) who were presented with a series of social dilemmas in which attaining popularity was opposed to five other priorities: friendship, personal achievement, following rules, prosocial behavior, and romantic interests. A curvilinear trend was found for the priority of popularity that peaked in early adolescence. At this age especially, participants prioritized status enhancement over other domains. Across the age range of this study, males and majority students were more preoccupied with reputational status than females and minority students. The discussion focused on the developmental functions of reputational status in early adolescence.