There's social science behind the perception.
As fast-moving middle-schoolers, they were driven by a heightened longing to impress friends. Indeed their brazen behavior did earn them a blaze of popularity. But by high school, their peers had begun to mature, readying themselves to experiment with romance and even mild delinquency. The cool kids’ popularity faded.
Opportunity for future research: to what extent does a popular culture that makes the edgy glamourous contribute? That's going to be difficult as adolescent culture emerged more or less contemporaneously with the victory dividend after World War II and the entertainment industry.  But Dead Man's Curve is no place to play.
A constellation of three popularity-seeking behaviors characterized pseudomaturity, [Virginia psychology professor Joseph] Allen and his colleagues found. These young teenagers sought out friends who were physically attractive; their romances were more numerous, emotionally intense and sexually exploring than those of their peers; and they dabbled in minor delinquency — skipping school, sneaking into movies, vandalism.

As they turned 23, the study found that when compared to their socially slower-moving middle-school peers, they had a 45 percent greater rate of problems resulting from alcohol and marijuana use and a 40 percent higher level of actual use of those substances. They also had a 22 percent greater rate of adult criminal behavior, from theft to assaults.
Again, there's a social science opportunity -- perhaps dummying out parents' income and occupation and all the other Becker-Mincer kitchen sink variables has some use.  I bet, though, even now, someone is firing up the race-class-gender-intersectionality mill to identify yet one more cultural construction.

Construct this:  life after college is the revenge of the nerds, and that revenge rests on a bourgeois foundation.
Dr. Allen suggested that while they were chasing popularity, they were missing a critical developmental period. At the same time, other young teenagers were learning about soldering same-gender friendships while engaged in drama-free activities like watching a movie at home together on a Friday night, eating ice cream. Parents should support that behavior and not fret that their young teenagers aren’t “popular,” he said.

“To be truly mature as an early adolescent means you’re able to be a good, loyal friend, supportive, hardworking and responsible,” Dr. Allen said. “But that doesn’t get a lot of airplay on Monday morning in a ninth-grade homeroom.”
And thus it's up to the schools to reinforce the inculcation of bourgeois convention.  Honoring your commitments, telling the truth, exchanging your best efforts for the best efforts of others: confers an evolutionary advantage to adopters, and evolutionary stable among adopters.

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