Do rebelliousness, emotional control, toughness and thrill-seeking still make up the essence of coolness?
Can performers James Dean and Miles Davis still be considered the models of cool?
Research led by a University of Rochester Medical Center psychologist and published by the Journal of Individual Differences has found the characteristics associated with coolness today are markedly different than those that generated the concept of cool.
"When I set out to find what people mean by coolness, I wanted to find corroboration of what I thought coolness was," said Ilan Dar-Nimrod, Ph.D., lead author of "Coolness: An Empirical Investigation." "I was not prepared to find that coolness has lost so much of its historical origins and meaningthe very heavy countercultural, somewhat individualistic pose I associated with cool.
"James Dean is no longer the epitome of cool," Dar-Nimrod said. "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."
In research that has developed over several years, Dar-Nimrod, currently a post-doctoral fellow in the Medical Center's Department of Psychiatry, and his colleagues recruited almost 1,000 people in the Vancouver, British Columbia, area, who completed an extensive questionnaire on the attributes, behaviors and individuals they associated with the word cool.
In the journal article, the research is described as the first systematic, quantitative examination of what characteristics recur in popular understandings of the cool personality.
The researchers conducted three separate studies. In Study 1, participants generated characteristics that they perceived to be cool. In Study 2, two samples of participants rated dozens of these characteristics on two dimensions:
|Contact: Michael Wentzel|
University of Rochester Medical Center