Fame: The Social Currency

Merit doesn’t drive celebrity. A good story does. It gives us a common topic with which to feed our hunger for connection. That’s why, according to a couple of studies, some people are famous for just being famous. Paris Hilton comes to mind. And it explains why Kim Kardashian continues to be a topic of conversation.

Researchers at Stanford University compared baseball players (since there are clear measures of their abilities). Even if players were well past their prime, fame drove conversations not achievement. Obscure players who put up great numbers didn’t command the same interest.

The implications apply to business and other corners of society. One of the researchers says, “It is critical to remember that the most prominent people in your organization are not always the ones producing the highest-quality work; they might just be better at selling themselves."

Read more about the study here.

Stephen Goforth