Seated For Sociability

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 29 2014 @ 7:33am

Christian Jarrett mulls over a finding that students who are assigned to sit in the center of the classroom are more popular than those assigned to sit on the margins:

Why should seating position have these associations with children’s perceptions of their peers? The researchers think two psychological mechanisms are pertinent. Social psychology research on race relations and prejudice finds that the more we interact with other people, the more positive our views of them tend to be. School pupils naturally interact and socialise more with the children located near to them, and so this interaction could encourage more positive perceptions. There is also a psychological phenomenon known as the “mere exposure effect”, which describes how familiarity with something or someone breeds more positive feelings towards them.sdgsdg

[Researchers Yvonne] Van den Berg and [Antonius] Cillessen also conducted a second study with 158 more school children, in which they asked them to rate each others’ popularity, and also to say where they would position themselves and their classmates if they could choose. Perhaps unsurprisingly, children said they’d like to sit nearer to their peers who were more liked and more popular. The researchers said this provided an insight into what’s known as the “cycle of popularity” – well-liked and popular children typically attract more social interactions with others, this then reinforces the popular perception that others have of them via the mechanisms mentioned earlier.