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Going to School

Social Groups & Cliques

Our experts have analyzed the social groups that form at school to help us understand how each child functions as a social person in the school environment. “Everyone who has ever gone to school is aware that there is a social status hierarchy in school. It is very painful to think that our own children are being ranked in some way by the group, but it happens. However, these groupings should not be used as measurements for comparing or changing kids to make them more popular,” advises Michael Thompson, Ph.D.
The following groupings are based on research organized by Michael Thompson Ph.D. and Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D, and originally reported in “Children’s Peer Relations: A Meta-Analytic Review of Popular, Rejected, Neglected, Controversial and Average Sociometric Status.”

Very Popular Kids
Popular kids are generally “alpha males” and “queen bees” who may be more athletic, talkative, attractive or simply controlling than other members of a group. These kids generally have social skills that draw others to them to have fun, and are considered leaders of a group. As kids get older, sexual activity can also become a factor in a kid’s popularity or coolness factor.

Accepted Kids
The majority of kids fall into this group. They are not “leaders,” but they are considered popular. Accepted kids are generally smart and outgoing and not likely to be overly aggressive or disruptive in school.

Average or Ambiguous Kids
These kids are not ranked by their peers as very popular or unpopular but certainly have friends.

Neglected Kids
A small number of kids are truly neglected by their peers. These kids tend to be quiet, good students, but not active socially at all. Teachers often don’t worry about them, because they do well in school. While it takes a long time for these kids to make friends, research shows that they generally do have friends by middle school, but they need attention from parents and teachers.

Controversial Kids
Both liked and disliked, these kids are often the class clowns; likable kids with embarrassing habits (like excessive nose-picking), bullies who instill both fear and loyalty, and rebels who stand up to teachers and talk back.

Rejected Kids
At the highest social risk are “rejected kids.” There are two types: rejected-submissive kids who become sad and withdrawn to avoid attracting attention and rejected-aggressive kids who can become emotionally explosive if teased excessively. “These kids are not necessarily violent kids, but they are the kids who frequently lose control in school, act up excessively, and wind up in the principal’s office,” says Michael Thompson, Ph.D.

  • Pingback: Abigail S' CyberEnglish Blog » Social Cliques

  • Tbaum


  • asdf

    I guess I would be none of the above.

  • Enderlord

    I would be none of the above there are more social groups, alot more

  • Dieanosis

    I’d say the accepted controversial class clown, (who doesn’t have habits) and the accepted kid who always back talks to the teacher.

  • TechnoGeek

    I’d always said to myself that ‘social hierarchy’s’ don’t even exist. They honestly don’t. No-one’s on a social ladder at school. It’s all in our minds.

  • Lea

    I believe there should be a new class: oddities. Like the kids who is noticed by everyone, but has no friends- all the while not being bullied because they are excessively talented in one way or the other. Me.

    • Lindsay

      This is so me it’s crazy, at school everyone pays attention to what I have to say like I’m popular but no one bothers to actually get to know me or be my friend.

  • Albert einstien

    Thank you so very
    much for providing great information. I have been impressed from this source.

  • Chloemillerquagliano

    I guess I would be a queen bee aka popular kid everyone feels what I will do to there social status and wonders what I will were next and how they can look like me I always have the best looking guys in my school so oops I was born this way deal with it but I’m also nice and sporty

    • Anzali

      excuse me u think u r popular when u r really not

    • TERRY

      I am 55, i was an ugly duckling, not popular at all, felt awkward…hated it, wished I was one of the popular girls, the “clique”, I looked 12 when i was 17. i have been to a few reunions, recently my 30th , and the most popular girls in school then, the ones like you, that made the skinny, freckled faced, shy girls like me feel miserable on purpose, never let “in”, called out and bullied, Those popular beautiful “it” girls, that looked down on me, were the ones that became old, tired and burned-out before their time. I rode my Harley-Davidson scooter, alone, 3 hours to the reunion. I walked in, I recognized nobody, and only very few recognized me….you see chicky little, wanna be Paris Hilton, their “nice and sporty”, came and went a long time ago. I was the belle of the ball at 55, and I had all the attention. I AM NOW THE NICE AND SPORTY…I look years younger than my class-mates, I learned to respect others, learned to respect myself more. I am very secure with my looks, my opinions, I am at peace with any decisions good or bad I have made. I have become a strong female, looks do not last forever princess. Looks wont pay your way thru life. You need to grow up. Learn to blog correctly, learn how to use punctuation, and make sentences that make sense. Men find smart, mature women more attractive, than giggly, silly, “look at me” types. You always have the best looking guys in school? What exactly do you mean? Are you popular for the wrong reasons? There is such a thing. My advise for you is to screw your head on straight, get educated, stick to just one really nice guy, instead of the whole football team, Be popular for being kind, thoughtful, smart and giving. Respect yourself Barbie. Do not make others feel small because you think you are “all that”. When I am out socially, all eyes are on me, even at my age, however; I am not a snob like you, I enjoy conversing with all types of people, especially those that I sense may feel “out of place”, like me years ago. Seeing that your post was 2 years ago, I am curious how all that “nice and sporty” is working for you now. Unlike you, I feel beautiful outside, but more important, I feel beautiful inside. I do not envy you, change your attitude, or you will become tired, haggard and burned-out before your time.

    • Idubbz

      when you can’t grammar.

  • Rocket Zoom

    I think there should be a rank for the outsiders (goths emos, scene kids, alternative) I’m a mix of goth, emo and scene (alternative). So it should be a ranking

    • kys


    • Daniel Abbott

      i got you

  • leah

    i’m an accepteded kid :DD

  • bryce

    lucky for me i’m a very popular kid

  • bryce

    and lawton

  • Lawton Smith

    im pretty farmer

  • Day

    This DOES exist in school, but it is not that obvious especially nowadays in some schools. In my school, if your neglected or below you are special (as in special education, or just different in any way).

  • Ty

    Interesting… I was either 1 of the very popular kids or under the Controversial kids category, class clown so I was only liked vs both liked and disliked.

  • William

    I went from neglected to accepted.I just need to play basketball to be popular.

  • Phoebe

    I’m physically attractive by just about everyone’s standards, and I take multiple sports (kickboxing, karate, track & field). I’m an 11th-grader high school, and this year I went from a leader to rejected in less than a month. All because of a breakup.

    The long version:

    I was in the “average” class until the school’s most powerful person asked me out. When we suddenly broke up, he started spreading rumors about me, harrassing, and shaming me.
    None of the teachers (or my parents, for that matter) seemed to really care about it. Sorry if I sound like an angsty, needy 17-year-old by posting about this. I just need to tell someone who will actually listen.

  • harbingerHacker

    This is how it works when teachers look at students, but, from the view of a student, it is often more complex than a linear structure.
    It more works with school being split into “social groups.” In my experience, these groups are most often the nerds, the average kids, the popular kids, the quiet kids, and the smart kids. These groups are organized so that there are three classes two them. An outgoing, average, and quiet class. For nerds, outgoing kids are the ones that would cosplay to school. The average kids read comics and books but mostly don’t talk about it with others, outside of their friend group. The quiet nerds don’t show their class outwardly.
    These groups intermingle a lot among classes, but normally, they don’t make strong friendships outside of their social group.

  • Anonymous

    I am none of the above. I realised early on – about year 5 ( 4th grade for you Americans) what was going on. I then decidedly to always go against the social hierarchy within schools and whenever a ‘popular’ kid said something I made sure not to be one of those zombies who nod and force a laugh, instead saying my point of view and effectively breaking the ‘system’. Doing this, I became friends with lots of the ‘uncool’ kids.

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