[MUSIC] Welcome back. I'm excited to tell you this time about popularity and how it's measured in research studies. It's actually a little bit tricky to figure out how to measure things in a lot of psychological studies because we need to make sure that what we're capturing is what we are hoping to capture, so we're measuring the right thing. When we think about the scientific process, of course we're talking about developing a hypothesis, figuring out how to measure each variable. Of course, then we go on to collect data in a systematic way. We analyze those data. We come up with conclusions, state some limitations, and that leads to new hypotheses. But the question that's been tricky for a long time has been, how do you operationalize the constructs of popularity? So how do we get at that exactly? There's no perfect way to do that actually. When we think about operationalizing even a construct like intelligence, how would you capture that? How would you be able to get at some innate level of intelligence for each person? Unlike medical science where you're able to take a blood test and show the presence of a germ or an antigen of some sort, that doesn't happen in psychological science. So, would you use high school grades as a measure of intelligence? Not probably going to be very accurate. It's not the same thing. Do you use standardized test scores? Of course those can be biased. Would you look at the ability to complete a crossword puzzle in the New York Times? Would you use how quickly they can successfully do a Sudoku? All of these are factors that probably high intelligence would help you do well in, but it's not exactly the same thing as intelligence. And that's why it's been really hard to figure out, how do we measure popularity? So, let me talk a little bit about some of the ways that people have thought about this, and you'll hopefully appreciate some of the difficulties here. So first, one way that you can figure out how popular people are is to ask them, by self-report, how popular are you? Or, how popular were you? This seems pretty straightforward of course, but there's actually good evidence to suggest that this might not work so well. Anyone who's been to their high school reunion probably realizes that you might go in remembering how things were, or feeling like you were regarded in a certain way. But at some point in the reunion, you learn that actually your memory, or the experiences you had, were not the same that everyone else had of you. They kind of had a different impression of you than you thought that they had. In fact, there are lots of ways that people are biased when it comes to self-reporting their popularity. There are some people that tend to overreport. We know from research on youth that children who are really rejected by their peers, and they also are pretty aggressive kids, that combination leads kids to really think that they're popular. It's kind of funny because they're absolutely not. But when you ask many of these kids, how well do you think you do with other peers or do you think others like you, they think they're doing great. They say, yeah I think everyone likes me and I'm really popular and I have no concerns, when actually all their peers are saying, yeah we kind of really don't like that kid. People call that a positive illusory bias. And in that same, in the opposite way, we also see that some people really underreport their popularity. When you ask kids to tell you, how well do you think you're doing, the kids that say, I'm very not popular, no one really likes me, they fall into two camps. One is either they're depressed, and they systematically underreport their popularity. Or you do get some element of modesty that plays a role. So the kids who are very, very popular and very socially skilled tend to not tell you that they're very, very popular and socially skilled. They tend to say, well I do okay I guess, or, yeah I think some kids like me but some don't. And they're also wrong. In fact, they're very, very popular, but they're underreporting it just to seem kind of skilled about that, so it's hard. The other thing that's really hard about this is that when you ask kids how popular they are, they tend to tell you about popularity reflecting different kinds of ways of interpreting that word, and we'll get to that a little bit more in a bit. So if you can't ask kids how popular they are, maybe you can ask their parents. You could say to a parent, how popular is your son, or how popular is your daughter? That also is a little bit tricky to do. First of all, of course, parents usually love to think that their children are doing very well, they have no flaws, they're absolutely wonderful. That's important. We all love our children, but that kind of does present a bit of a bias. It does seem to be the case that parents tend to overreport how much they think that their kids are popular and well-liked by others. Also we have to keep in mind that parents are going to have only a limited window into their kids, so they don't spend as much time with their kids and their kids' peers as others do. So they're really only seeing what their, they know what their kids tell them. They also know what happens when their kids invite their friends over for a playdate in their house. But they don't really have the experience of knowing what dozens and dozens of kids are usually like. And as kids get older, they spend less and less time at home. And parents get worse and worse as a reporter of their kids' popularity. There's also one other kind of bias that's important to note, and that's called a depression-distortion hypothesis. This is a bias that refers to the idea that parents, moms and dads who are feeling depressed, they tend to feel like their kids are having very big difficulties across a wide range of areas. And for that reason, if parents are experiencing any depression, they may really underreport their level of their child's popularity. So for all these reasons, parents are not really good reporters of how popular a kid is, especially as that child gets above eight, nine years old, let's say. So if parents are not able to tell you because they don't have enough experience with lots and lots of kids, how about teachers? Teachers actually are pretty good reporters of how much their students in their class might be popular. They see the kids experiencing peer relations right in front of their eyes, and they usually see them doing that for many hours a day. So teachers can be a really good reporter, but teachers also have their biases. And in particular, what we know is that teachers tend to really be biased towards those that are intelligent. So the kids that are really good at listening in class, are really smart, are really excited about participating in what it is the teacher wants to do, they tend to get the most attention from the teacher, and the teacher has a hard time separating who they like the most with who the other kids like the most. So teachers are okay reporters, but they do tend to have some of their own biases as well. Fourth, another way that people have tried to understand popularity is to do playground observations. Now this sounds a little bit creepy and stalky because it means that researchers are kind of quietly sitting in the corner of the playground and just watching kids play, and that can be a little bit weird. But the way that it usually happens is that a researcher will sit on a playground for a little while until the kids get so used to them and so not interested in interacting with that researcher anymore that they really forget that they're there. And when that happens, the researcher can start to code whether kids are involved in certain types of play. And what play they're involved in usually tells us a lot about how popular they are. So one type of play is called cooperative play, and this is the kind of thing that you would expect to see of kids that are popular and that are doing well. Usually that's meaning that the kids are involved in some sort of activity with their peers. What they're doing with their peers is marked by positive affect. In other words, they're happy, they're excited to be interacting with each other, no one's fighting or beating each other up, and usually they're doing something that involves turn-taking or sharing. Now interestingly, girls tend to do this mostly in the context of dyads, so it's usually one girl with one other girl. And people have speculated that for that reason, girls are very good at understanding relationship types of things because in childhood, they've gotten lots and lots of practice in knowing how to interact with one other person. Boys tend to engage in cooperative play in large groups. And because of that, there usually is someone who's in charge, someone who's the boss. Other people are kind of followers. They know how to set up rules and what happens when someone breaks those rules because they're managing a very large group. For that reason, our society has really been built to think about large groups from this male-dominated perspective. The more that we see females now entered into the workforce and assuming leadership positions, we need to really challenge whether that way was the best way to have set up a lot of group interactions in the first place. Or if it was just the habit that a lot of boys had developed when they were young kids and engaged in that type of play. So cooperative play seems to be important. It sets us up for, it helps us understand popularity, and it also might explain a lot of the reasons why things are the way they are in dyads or groups in adulthood. Kids that are not very popular tend to be engaged in one of three other types of play experiences, as we can see on the playground. One of those is called isolated or solitary play. And if you go to any playground, you'll probably see that while there are many kids all playing together, there's often that one or two children that are kind of just doing their own thing. They might be perfectly happy to do that, and in which case they actually grow up to be fine. But in many cases, they're all by themselves playing far away usually from all the other kids, and they may be very unhappy to do that. That might be something that makes them sad, and those kids, those kids experiencing in loneliness and isolation tend to have difficulties later on. The flipside of that in a sense are the kids who engage in rough-and-tumble play. This is mostly males, and boys tend to engage in this very kind of physical type of rolling around and pushing each other, that kind of play. If that's done in a cooperative way, that tends to be good and it suggests good outcomes. But a lot of times there are a couple of kids doing rough-and-tumble while everyone else is trying to do cooperative, and that tends to not be very good. And a lot of those kids might have difficulties with aggression, ADHD, or other types of things that might suggest difficulties long-term. The last type of play that I'll talk about is called parallel play. Parallel play is interesting. It's when you see a group of kids engaged in cooperative play, and then there's some other kid kind of standing a little bit outside of that circle or outside of that group. And they're kind of mirroring what everyone else is doing, but they're not really in it. So, everyone might be passing a ball back and forth, and they're kind of there, but no one really kicks the ball to them. Or everyone might be climbing up stairs or a slide or on the monkey bars, and they're doing it too, but no one's really noticing that they're part of it. So they're kind of mirroring what they see, but they're not really part of the group. And that also suggests a kid that might not be necessarily very popular, might be having a difficult time. Of course the last thing that I'll talk about is the use of peers to tell us who's most popular, and that tends to be the way that we really understand popularity the best. So we'll talk about that next.