The paper said the ability to form friendships rests on a series of expected factors. The authors find a “positive association between a warm early family environment” and one who is well liked among students. They also find the students they studied tended to associate with those similar to themselves.

What’s more, the study found “relatively older and smarter students are more popular, while relative family income status plays only a minor role.”

High school popularity is an important concept because it is at that time that students are increasingly turning their attention from older authority figures to one another. The students that fare well under this consideration are starting to show the skills that will serve them well when they move out into the world and fend for themselves.