Xi, Juzhe, Laurence Owens, & Huarun Feng (2016). Friendly girls and mean girls: Social constructions of popularity among teenage girls in Shanghai. Japanese Psychological Research, 58(1), 42-53. Special issue: Culture-inclusive approaches. (doi: 10.1111/jpr.12101)

Abstract: Two different research traditions in the West see popularity defined either sociometrically, as being well-liked, or in a peer-perceived way as being publicly visible and having social status and influence. Recent Q studies in Australia and England have supported the public prestige conception of popularity but we do not know how teenagers in Asian cultures view popularity. The current study used Q methodology and individual interviews to investigate the social constructions of popularity among 53 (16- to 19-year old) girls from two schools in Shanghai. Q factor analysis revealed one common perspective—popular girls were considered to be friendly and pro-social, while unpopular girls were characterized by relational aggression and self-centeredness. The interview data indicated that among Shanghai girls, the popularity concept was more related to peer acceptance than to social influence. The differences in the features of popular girls in this Shanghai-based study and teenage girls in Western studies are discussed. [A shorter version of this article was published in the conference proceedings of the Third Conference on Psychology and Social Harmony held in Suzhou, May 2014. The full reference for that paper is: Owens, L., Feng, H., & Xi, J. (2014). Popularity among teenage girls in Adelaide and Shanghai: A pilot Q method study. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 2, 80–85.]

Larry Owens <larry.owens> is in the School of Education, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.