Popularity among Teenage Girls in Adelaide and Shanghai: A Pilot Q-Method Study


Being popular is of crucial importance to adolescents and particularly to teenage girls. In the past, popularity was measured via sociometric ratings and was seen as being well liked and accepted. In recent years, western researchers have asked teens themselves to express their views of popularity. This has led to a new view of popularity as being publically visible and prestigious and not necessarily well-liked. To investigate teenage girls’ perceptions of popularity we utilized Q methodology which is concerned with the scientific study of subjectivity. Our samples were 40 14 - 16 year old girls from Adelaide, South Australia, and 53 16 - 19 year old girls from Shanghai, China. The South Australian study revealed two factors, the first (reported in this paper) called “pretty girl popularity” was concerned with physical attractiveness and fashionable appearance, and characterized by an anti-authority attitude. In the Shanghai sample, only one dominant factor emerged—it defined popular girls as being even tempered, sincere, forgiving, outgoing and energetic while unpopular girls were seen as being relationally aggressive and self-centred. The differences between our two samples may be related to the different cultural contexts of Adelaide and Shanghai, the former relating to an individualistic ethic and the latter concerned more with social harmony.

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Owens, L. , Feng, H. and Xi, J. (2014) Popularity among Teenage Girls in Adelaide and Shanghai: A Pilot Q-Method Study. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 2, 80-85. doi: 10.4236/jss.2014.25016.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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