Among cut-throat environments high school easily comes top of the list.
It’s the place where “beauty” or looks see you climbing the social ladder and brains are defined as being nerdy with your nose constantly in the books.
And although most people couldn’t wait to see the back of those five years, a leading psychologist has dug a bit deeper and found that our level of popularity in high school can affect the rest of our lives.
Mitch Prinstein, author of POPULAR: The Power Of Likability In A Status-Obsessed World, believes our way of thinking is formed during our school years because we go through puberty in that time and it’s also when the brain’s most radical development stage occurs.
“The experiences we have in those critical years have the potential to affect the brain we will live with for the rest of our lives, which gives our teenage experiences with popularity such immense power,” Prinstein writes.
He uses the example of bumping into someone and apologising even when it’s not your fault.
Your instinctive response would be to either apologise or to turn around and tell the person to watch where they’re going.
Your response depends on which side of the spectrum you found yourself during your schooling years.
That was when you first judged social settings and determined which reactions in specific situations would lead to better outcomes. And your brain often clung to those beliefs as a survival mechanism.
Prinstein further explains that the way you interact in social settings today is influenced by how you interacted with your peers in high school – regardless of where you featured in the school’s food chain.
But this isn’t a finding that rings true for everyone.
Some of us outgrow the awkward, submissive teenagers we once were, or mature from the bullying high school rulers we used to be.