From the Inner World to Outer: PsychTests Study Reveals How Intrapersonal Emotional Intelligence Plays a Role in Popularity

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A study by indicates that being popular is less about how we deal with others, and more about how we deal with ourselves.

The intrapersonal aspect of emotional intelligence is more likely to be associated with popularity than the interpersonal aspect.

EQ plays a major role in popularity, but it’s more about how you handle yourself rather than how you deal with people.

If you want to be able to make friends and create relationships, you have to get a handle on yourself – your emotions, your behaviors.

Put aside the designer purse. Forget the muscle car, the latest fashions, or the selfies. They are superficial and short-lived ways of gaining appeal and popularity. What matters is emotional intelligence, but not in the way that most people would think. Although empathy, conflict-resolution skills, and the ability to read body language and social cues are crucial people skills, they’re not enough to make friends. Interestingly, emotional intelligence research by PsychTests reveals that popularity is more likely to be linked with intrapersonal skills rather than interpersonal skills.

Analyzing data from 34,809 people who took their Emotional Intelligence Test, researchers compared the traits and competencies of individuals who are socially popular to those who are not. Of the 20 EQ factors assessed, the ones most strongly correlated with popularity were those related to how people deal with their own inner world, rather than how they deal with others.

Here are the top ten traits/skills associated with popularity:

(Note: The scores displayed below range on a scale from 0 to 100.).


  •     Average score for popular group: 77
  •     Average score for unpopular group: 50

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from failure and move on from hardship. It appears that popular individuals are not the type to incessantly complain about their problems to whoever is willing to listen. They don’t play the victim or wallow in self-pity (or other people’s pity). They pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and keep moving forward.


  •     Average score for popular group: 78
  •     Average score for unpopular group: 61

Popular people tend to handle stress quite well. They are more likely to use healthy techniques (social support, a positive attitude, and seeking information/help) to cope with difficult situations. This means that they are less likely to take their stress and frustration out on others.


  •     Average score for popular group: 81
  •     Average score for unpopular group: 57

Popular people face their problems head-on. Rather than complaining about the unfairness of the world, they accept the reality that difficulties will arise sometimes. They take a proactive approach to life’s challenges. Instead of focusing on the problem, they focus on finding a solution.


  •     Average score for popular group: 72
  •     Average score for unpopular group: 49

It’s hard to like someone who is constantly finding fault in the world or in others, who has nothing cheerful to say, and who is a constant bubble-bursting, wet blanket. Simply put, pessimists are not the most pleasant people to be around. PsychTests’ study reveals that popular individuals are more likely to be optimists – realistic optimists, to be specific. While they may plan for the worst-case scenario, they still keep their hopes up.


  •     Average score for popular group: 44
  •     Average score for unpopular group: 65

Tying into the factors above, popular individuals are less likely to ruminate or worry excessively. While they may feel down sometimes, they don’t stay there for very long. They don’t dwell too long on problems or regrets.


  •     Average score for popular group: 70
  •     Average score for unpopular group: 50

Popular people are self-starters who don’t need a pep talk from others to get or keep them going. They are ambitious and perseverant, and refuse to give up in the face of obstacles. Rather than relying on something or someone outside of them to push them into action, they rely on their own inner drive.


  •     Average score for popular group: 63
  •     Average score for unpopular group: 44

Popular people generally don’t shy away from or repress their feelings, even when facing emotionally charged situations that make them feel vulnerable or uncomfortable. Their willingness to face their emotions also helps them understand how to deal with other people’s emotions.


  •     Average score for popular group: 62
  •     Average score for unpopular group: 44

Popular people strive to stay “in tune” with themselves. Rather than passively allowing waves of anger, sadness, or fear to inundate them, they take the time to understand why they are feeling this way. In turn, their emotional self-awareness allows them to pick up on and recognize emotions in others.


  •     Average score for popular group: 60
  •     Average score for unpopular group: 42

While they can get sidetracked by difficult circumstances or ruffled by difficult people, popular people tend to be fairly skilled at regulating their emotions. They do experience negative feelings, but they also won’t allow their emotions to overwhelm them.


  •     Average score for popular group: 76
  •     Average score for unpopular group: 59

Popular people know what makes them special and are able to use their strengths to their advantage. They also recognize and accept their faults. They know they’re not perfect, and work hard to improve themselves. This willingness to expose their vulnerabilities endears them to others who appreciate their authenticity and courage.

“The old adage is true: In order to be loved, you have to love yourself first. In the context of this study on popularity and emotional intelligence, it means if you want to be able to make friends and create relationships, you have to get a handle on yourself – your emotions, your behaviors, your self-love” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “Popular people - and by this I mean people who are well-liked by everyone they meet and who make friends easily - are more likely to be emotionally intelligent. However, EQ isn’t limited to the ability to maneuver social situations and interact with people. It relates to how you interact with yourself.”

“Imagine being around someone who is almost always amicable and pleasant. Someone who keeps a cool head under pressure, who strives to become a better person, and who doesn’t dwell on the past. Now imagine someone who always complains, talks about their problems, needs constant emotional support, and is moody. Who would you have a better time with? Yes, likeable individuals are popular because they know how to interact in social situations, but it’s also because they conduct themselves with decorum and poise. And it is EQ that plays a major role in this. Emotional intelligence encompasses interpersonal skills as well as intrapersonal skills. It’s what allows you to navigate your outer world and inner world.”

Want to assess your EQ? Check out

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About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see The company’s research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

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Ilona Jerabek
PsychTests AIM Inc.
+1 514-745-3189 Ext: 112
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