A new study has found that our perception of what is cool has changed dramatically since people began using the word "cool" to describe somebody.
"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. 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," said Dar-Nimrod from University of Rochester Medical Center, co-author of the study.
The researchers however point out the transition from "being alone" is cool to "being friendly" is cool hasn't occurred fully yet.
Researchers conducted 3 surveys to find out how coolness is defined in the present generation. Some 1,000 people were recruited for the survey. The study was conducted in 3 parts. First the participants had to describe what they considered cool. In the second study, participants had to rate all these characteristics as cool or as socially desirable. In the third study, the participants rated their friends on their coolness.
The research team found that cool is now the person who is friendly, trendy and attractive. Although some people did rate aloof nature as cool. Researchers say that the idea of cool has moved from being a rebel to a completely different personality type.
"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. 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," Dar-Nimrod said.
Researchers say that coolness might be associated with unhealthy behaviors.
"Coolness may have some relevance to health behaviors. Smoking or drug use, for example, could be connected with a view of coolness that includes rebelliousness or a countercultural stance. This can inform future health research on behaviors. Is coolness related to people’s choice of unhealthy behaviors, such body modifications, unprotected sex or even eating behaviors?" said Dar-Nimrod.