Variant and invariant predictors of perceived popularity across majority-Black and majority-White classrooms Academic Article uri icon


  • Behavioral descriptors were identified as variant or invariant predictors of perceived popularity in a sample of 516 fourth, fifth, and sixth grade children located in 26 majority-Black or majority-White classrooms. Athletic ability, prosocial behavior, being "cool", social withdrawal, and "personal privilege" (i.e., having a lot of expensive possessions; attractiveness) were found to be invariant or stable predictors of perceived popularity across classrooms, with personal privilege more important for girls than for boys. In majority-Black classrooms, tough and excluding, relationally aggressive behaviors were associated with elevated levels of perceived popularity, whereas in majority-White classrooms acting tough was negatively associated with this construct. The positive association between disruptive behavior and perceived popularity observed for girls was stronger in majority-White classrooms than in majority-Black classrooms, whereas the association was more strongly negative for boys in majority-White than in majority-Black classrooms. Lastly, although being bright (i.e., smart, good problem-solver) was a stable predictor of perceived popularity on average, its predictive strength varied for boys and girls across classrooms. However, this variation was not attributable to the racial composition of the classroom. This study contributes to the emerging literature on perceived popularity by examining classroom-level variation in the individual characteristics associated with perceived popularity. The major implication of this work is that is demonstrates the influence of contextual factors, including the racial composition of the classroom, on children's perceptions of social status. 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Meisinger, E. B., Blake, J. J., Lease, A. M., Palardy, G. J., & Olejnik, S. F.

citation count

  • 35

complete list of authors

  • Meisinger, EB||Blake, JJ||Lease, AM||Palardy, GJ||Olejnik, SF

publication date

  • January 2007