Popularity and the Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World with Mitch Prinstein

by Scott Barry Kaufman, September 24, 2017

Mitch Prinstein, Ph.D. is board certified in clinical child and adolescent psychology, and serves as the John Van Seters Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and the Director of Clinical Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He and his research have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, the LA Times, CNN, U.S. News & World Report, TIME magazine, New York magazine, Newsweek, and elsewhere.

In his latest book Popular: The Power of Likeability in A Status-Obsessed World, Prinstein examines how our popularity affects our success, our relationships, and our happiness—and why we don’t always want to be the most popular.

In our conversation we cover this and more, with key themes being:

  • Why seeking popularity is actually a basic human need,
  • Why it’s not always the “conventionally popular” people who fare best, and how this relates to the (2) different strategies for achieving popularity:
    • Likeability
    • Status
  • How studies can help explain both the basic human needs Facebook serves, and the more general status-seeking phenomenon on social media,
  • What it means to induce a “Popularity Boomerang”, and how becoming aware of it can fundamentally change the environment you exist in,
  • How your early experiences of popularity (or lack thereof) are probably helping or hindering how you show up in the world today, and if hindering, how you can overcome its effects,
  • Why  it’s more important the raise likeable kids than you might think, and the parenting implications of popularity research,
  • The likeability advantage.

We hope this conversation gives you some insights about popularity that will help you achieve your social, personal, and professional goals. Enjoy!


Popular: The Power of Likeability in A Status-Obsessed World is out now

Read an overview of the book and to take the Popularity Quiz

Follow Mitch on Twitter @mitchprinstein

For more information on Mitch or his research visit

One Response to “Popularity and the Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World with Mitch Prinstein”

  1. John Bolton says:

    I really loved this episode and bought the book on the basis of it. It was a great discussion as SBK really riffed at his usual high level where you feel the guests forget they are on a podcast and get all geeky with us. MItch P did this too while keeping focussed on his research results.
    At one point SBK goes “yessss!”, that sounded like a deep eureka!
    WIll return to this one again.

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