What makes a person cool: study

Once the epitome of cool, James Dean has lost his shine.
Photo / File
Once the epitome of cool, James Dean has lost his shine. Photo / File

Our perception of what is "cool" has changed dramatically since people first started using the word to describe someone, a new study has found.

Cool people are now friendly, trendy and attractive, according to the findings. Some participants also said it was cool to be aloof. Coolness has shifted from being a rebel to something completely different, researchers said.

"We have a kind of a schizophrenic coolness concept in our mind. Almost any one of us will be cool in some people's eyes, which suggests the idiosyncratic way coolness is evaluated," said Dar-Nimrod from University of Rochester Medical Center, co-author of the study.

"But some will be judged as cool in many people's eyes, which suggests there is a core valuation to coolness, and today that does not seem to be the historical nature of cool. We suggest there is some transition from the countercultural cool to a generic version of it's good and I like it."

Researchers recruited about 1000 people and conducted three surveys, Medical Daily reported. Participants were asked what was considered cool, then told to rate certain characteristics as cool or desirable. Finally, they were asked to rate their friends.

"James Dean is no longer the epitome of cool. The much darker version of what coolness is still there, but it is not the main focus," Dar-Nimrod said.

"The main thing is: Do I like this person? Is this person nice to people, attractive, confident and successful? That's cool today, at least among young mainstream individuals."

The study was published in Journal of Individual Differences.


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