Smart Kids Have All the Fun

| Mon Oct. 22, 2012 5:10 PM EDT

Here's a headline from Sarah Kliff in the Washington Post today:

Sorry, nerds: Popular kids earn more in the long run

This is a description of a study that followed high school seniors from the class of 1957 and, among other things, looked at whether popularity correlated with later success in life. And it did. Students were all asked to name their three best friends, and those who were named most often ended up earning more as adults. This isn't surprising. But it's worth noting that smart kids didn't actually do poorly. Here's what the study says:

We find a tendency for high-IQ students to nominate more friends and to be popular in turn, suggesting that high ability students might be more attractive as peers and better understand the opportunities arising from social interactions.

Social scientists have known for a long time that the usual stereotype of smart kids as socially maladjusted outcasts is wrong. Some of them are, but then again, so are some average kids. Popularity is independent of smarts, and on average, it turns out that smart kids are actually a little more sociable than the mean. This new study confirms that.