Кто популярен в школе: умные, красивые или независимые?
Sixty-two semi-structured interviews with students of grades 9–11 in 15 schools and a survey of 2,376 ninth-graders from 55 schools were used to identify Russian teenagers’ perceptions of popularity and assess gender differences in the factors of popularity. It transpires that 40–50% of school students reject the very notion of “popular” as inequality-inducing. Such attitudes are probably in coherence with collectivistic values that are prevalent in Russian society as opposed to individualistic ones. Students perceived as popular by their peers are characterized as exhibiting prosocial behavior. “The life and soul of the party” was the most frequent characteristic of popular teenagers used in students’ descriptions; “attractive”, “very smart” and “acknowledges no authority” were mentioned slightly less often. Girls are more likely to be classified as popular for their good-looking appearance and sense of style, while boys are revered for sports achievements, arguments with teachers, independence and ability to stand up for themselves. Intellect and sociability are regarded as equally strong factors of popularity for both boys and girls. High status in a class is associated with social approval and support, academic achievements and prosocial behavior. Russian school students differ from their Western peers in their notion and perceptions of popularity.