Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Leisure Activity Preferences and Perceived Popularity in Early Adolescence

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Leisure Activity Preferences and Perceived Popularity in Early Adolescence

Article excerpt

Introduction

Perceived popularity is an important indicator of social status among peers in early adolescence (Cillessen & Rose, 2005). Perceived popularity refers to the extent to which peers view a person as 'popular' (Cillessen & Mayeux, 2004; De Bruyn & Van den Boom, 2005). Perceived popularity is associated with various inter- and intrapersonal factors in early adolescence, such as power and prestige (Adler & Adler, 1998; Corsaro & Eder, 1990), aggression (Cillessen & Mayeux, 2004), school achievement (De Bruyn & Cillessen, 2006; Rodkin, Farmer, Pearl, & VanAcker, 2000; Schwartz, Gorman, Nakamato, & McKay, 2006), and self-esteem (De Bruyn & Van den Boom, 2005). Adolescents spend more than half their waking time in some form of leisure activity (Cszikszcntmihalyi & Larson, 1984; Larson & Richards, 1989; Larson & Verma, 1999). In the same way that peer status is connected to various outcomes in social development, leisure activities arc related to adolescent self esteem, autonomy, and identity (Corsaro & Eder, 1990; Eder, 1985; Eder & Parker, 1987). One way to understand these effects of leisure activities is through the opportunities for peer interaction they provide; another is through the status and prestige that certain leisure activities may have in the peer group. Even though much is known about the correlates and consequences of popularity, little is known about the role of leisure activities in the dynamics of peer group status. The overarching goal of this study was to fill this gap.

Corsaro and Eder (1990) argued that many aspects of adolescent peer culture are tied to visible school activities. Popular youth tend to be involved in school-sponsored activities that enhance peer status such as sports and cheerleading (Eder, 1985; Eder & Parker, 1987; Rodkin, et al., 2000). These findings are unique to North American samples, since school sports do not have the same visibility or cohesion-enhancing effects in schools in other cultures. For example, in Western Europe, adolescents play sports in local clubs and teams outside of school, and universities and colleges only have low-profile intramural competitions. Given the absence of a dominant role of sports in school culture, the leisure activities associated with popularity are different outside of North America. The specific goal of this study was to examine the leisure activities of high school students in The Netherlands and their associations with popularity. Gender differences were examined as well.

The past decade has witnessed a surge in research on popularity, particularly in early adolescence. In the sociometric literature, popularity or acceptance refers to a child's likeability among peers, usually assessed by asking students to name the peers in their classroom or grade they like most and like least. Sociometrically popular students are well liked, whereas sociometrically unpopular students are disliked or rejected. Sociometric popularity is based on being friendly, helpful, and non-aggressive (Rubin, Bukowski, & Parker, 2006). Children low in sociometric popularity tend to be mean, deceitful, or aggressive (e.g., Coie, Dodge, & Kupersmidt, 1990; Gifford-Smith & Brownell, 2003; Hartup, 1983; Newcomb, Bukowski, & Pattee, 1993).

A different picture is obtained when adolescents are not asked who they personally like most and least, but who they see as "most popular." In contrast with sociometric popularity or acceptance, this construct is labeled perceived popularity (Parkhurst & Hopmeyer, 1998), judgmental popularity (Babad, 2001), reputational popularity (Prinstein & Cillcssen, 2003), or consensual popularity (Dc Bruyn & Van den Boom, 2005; De Bruyn & Cillcssen, 2006). The last term reflects the fact that this type of popularity docs not measure personal liking, but the shared view of the peer group of who is dominant or socially central. …

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