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Some people are routinely described as "cool," but it is unknown whether this descriptor conveys trait-like information beyond mere likability or popularity. This is the first systematic quantitative investigation of coolness from a trait perspective. Three studies of North Americans (N = 918) converged to identify personality markers for coolness. Study 1 participants described coolness largely by referring to socially desirable attributes (e.g., social, popular, talented). Study 2 provided further evidence of the relationship between coolness and social desirability, yet also identified systematic discrepancies between valuations of coolness and social desirability. Factor analyses (Studies 2 and 3) indicated that coolness was primarily conceptualized in terms of active, status-promoting, socially desirable characteristics ("Cachet coolness"), though a second orthogonal factor ("Contrarian coolness") portrayed cool as rebellious, rough, and emotionally controlled. Study 3, which examined peer valuations of coolness, showed considerable overlap with abstract evaluations of the construct. We conclude that coolness is reducible to two conceptually coherent and distinct personality orientations: one outward focused and attuned to external valuations, the other more independent, rebellious, and countercultural. These results have implications for both basic and applied research and theory in personality and social psychology.
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I. Dar-Nimrod: Coolness: An Empirical InvestigationJournal of Individual Differences201 2; Vol. 33(3):175–185© 2012 Hogrefe Publishing
Original Article
Coolness: An Empirical Investigation
Ilan Dar-Nimrod
1
,I.G.Hansen
2
,T.Proulx
3
, D. R. Lehman
4
,
B. P. Chapman
1
, and P. R. Duberstein
1
1
Department of Psychiatry and Laboratory of Personality and Development, University of Rochester
Medical Center, Rochester, NY, USA,
2
Department of Psychology, York College, City University of New
York, USA,
3
Department of Psychology, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands,
4
Department of
Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Abstract. Some people are routinely described as “cool,” but it is unknown whether this descriptor conveys trait-like information
beyond mere likability or popularity. This is the first systematic quantitative investigation of coolness from a trait perspective. Three
studies of North Americans (N = 918) converged to identify personality markers for coolness. Study 1 participants described coolness
largely by referring to socially desirable attributes (e.g., social, popular, talented). Study 2 provided further evidence of the relationship
between coolness and social desirability, yet also identified systematic discrepancies between valuations of coolness and social desir-
ability. Factor analyses (Studies 2 and 3) indicated that coolness was primarily conceptualized in terms of active, status-promoting,
socially desirable characteristics (“Cachet coolness”), though a second orthogonal factor (“Contrarian coolness”) portrayed cool as
rebellious, rough, and emotionally controlled. Study 3, which examined peer valuations of coolness, showed considerable overlap with
abstract evaluations of the construct. We conclude that coolness is reducible to two conceptually coherent and distinct personality
orientations: one outward focused and attuned to external valuations, the other more independent, rebellious, and countercultural. These
results have implications for both basic and applied research and theory in personality and social psychology.
Keywords: coolness, social desirability, attitudes, personality
Coolness is ubiquitous in 21st-century life. Figuring out
how to be “cool” is arguably a rite of passage in the network
of many modern cultures that have otherwise abandoned
rites of passage. Most of those who pursue cool status can
be frustrated by its elusiveness and fickleness, even as easy
attainment of coolness is promised by consumer products
and services worldwide. The term “cool” is routinely used
to describe various individuals, but does such a descriptor
truly contain trait-like information above and beyond its
indication of likability and peer approval? And to the extent
there is disagreement on what cool is, what kinds of cool-
ness valuation are most common?
Researchers from diverse disciplines have offered theo-
retical and qualitative accounts for coolness (e.g., Connor,
1995; Danesi, 1994; Frank, 1997; Majors & Mancini Bill-
son, 1992; Nancarrow, Nancarrow, & Page, 2002; Pountain
& Robins, 2000). The present studies add to these accounts
by offering the first systematic, quantitative examination of
what characteristics recur in popular understandings of the
cool personality. In order to study the construct of coolness,
we use a nomological net approach (Cronbach & Meehl,
1955), examining convergent and discriminant validity
with respect to other constructs. We base our reasoning
partly on a lexical hypothesis (Goldberg, 1993) that the
construct of coolness has become embedded in language
because it reflects a meaningful dimension of variation
conveying information about persons. Our approach does
not test specific hypotheses directly, but is nevertheless rel-
evant to evaluating various scholarly accounts of the con-
struct (e.g., Danesi, 1994; Frank, 1997; Majors & Mancini
Billson, 1992; Pountain & Robins, 2000) with regard to
how well these accounts capture popular understandings of
coolness. Thus, we aim to identify a conceptual framework
by which all hypotheses about cool may be tested in sub-
sequent research.
Colloquial Coolness and a Lexical Perspective
The appeal of coolness is presumably enhanced by the
mysteriousness of what cool actually is. Although market-
ing researchers interested in anticipating changes in con-
sumption trends have put much time and money into “cool
hunting” (Southgate & Cogent Elliot, 2003), no standard
paradigm for this pursuit has emerged. Moreover, the val-
uation of cool has likely had a significant social and psy-
chological impact both within its communities of origin
and beyond. Any culture that values specific individual dif-
ferences or traits will influence individuals to comport
themselves according to those values, thus facilitating so-
cial norms that could profoundly influence behavior (Aj-
zen, 1991; Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). The goal of the present
research is to determine what those in a coolness-valuing
culture mean when they say cool.
DOI: 10.1027/1614-0001/a000088
© 2012 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Individual Differences 2012; Vol. 33(3):175–185
Dictionaries often define the slang use of cool as essen-
tially meaning socially desirable, for example, “very
good,” “excellent,” or “all right” (Landau, 1983). From a
lexical tradition (Allport, 1937; Goldberg, 1993), this is in-
formative the slang form of coolness has likely become
normalized in the English language because it offers reli-
able guidance on how to comport oneself in a positively-
valued way. Insofar as coolness is a marker of apparently
desirable characteristics, it also denotes observable criteria
for social inclusion or exclusion.
The main question we consider here is whether coolness
is merely a reflection of content-free social desirability or
whether “cool,” across individuals and groups, is trait-like,
denoting specific patterns of basic characteristics. The idea
that there is a potentially infinite set of ways to be cool may
appear plausible when considering the sometimes extreme
subcultural and generational differences in judgments of
which musical groups, movie stars, pop idols, art forms,
and clothing styles are considered cool. But such diverse
manifestations of preferences for specific individuals or
cultural products are not necessarily preferences for differ-
ent personality characteristics. Personality valuation does
tend to vary across contexts (e.g., Caspi, Roberts, & Shiner,
2005), but not as wildly or inexplicably as preferences for
specific cultural icons, products, or fashion trends.
Prior research suggests that there is content to coolness
beyond mere likability and desirability. Youthfulness (Mar-
tino, 2000), sexual appetite (Strodtbeck, Short, & Kolegar,
1962), risk taking (Martin & Leary, 2001), toughness
(Aloise-Young & Hennigan, 1996; Denborough, 1996;
Rodkin, Farmer, Pearl, & Van Acker, 2000), masculinity
(Czopp, Lasane, Sweigard, Bradshaw, & Hammer, 1998;
Denborough, 1996; Martino, 2000), muted emotion
(Beckerleg, 2004; Erber, Wegner, & Therriault, 1996), re-
belliousness (Eggertsen, 1965), and rejection of effortful
striving (Czopp et al., 1998; Osborne, 1999; Williams, Bur-
den, & Lanvers, 2002) are all presumed to be cool in con-
temporary Western cultures. The valuation of coolness has
also been linked to bullying, gang membership, and inter-
personal violence (Denborough, 1996; Houndoumadi &
Deree, 2001; Strodtbeck et al., 1962), as well as to smoking
and drug use (Griffin, Epstein, & Botvin, 2001; Martin, &
Leary, 2001; Plumridge, Fitzgerald, & Abel, 2002). Despite
this rich literature addressing the concept of coolness, these
studies all share a notable weakness: Researchers have yet
to attempt to systematically and quantitatively outline the
key features of coolness. The present studies represents the
first step in establishing some well-defined operationaliza-
tions of the construct.
For coolness to be linked to specific behaviors or atti-
tudes such as drug use or opposing authority, it ought to
represent some specific set of attributes that cut across the
coolness of specific objects, practices, places, and people.
That is, coolness may have some shared intersubjectivity
in its referents – or the word would not have enough shared
meaning to justify its common use in English (and increas-
ingly in other languages).
Contemporary Accounts of Coolness
Diverse accounts present the content of coolness in broadly
overlapping ways. A common origin story for coolness as a
slang expression in English is that it grew out of the jazz era
and conveyed a kind of innovative fashionability (Pountain
& Robins, 2000). This slang form also merged with an older
nonslang, personality-relevant meaning of cool as emotion-
ally controlled. Among African-Americans, cool has argu-
ably come to mean an impassive ironic stance highlighting a
rejection of the dominant culture’s value system (Majors &
Mancini Billson, 1992). It is perhaps not an accident that the
menthol cigarette Kool was heavily marketed to African
Americans in the 1960s (Gardner, 2004). Later, in popular
American culture, attaining coolness gradually became a
kind of rite of passage even for white middle-class adoles-
cents not obviously suffering from societal oppression (Da-
nesi, 1994). Thus, coolness is commonly understood in terms
of adolescent development and rebelliousness (e.g., Danesi,
1994) rather than in racial or historical-political terms. Cool-
ness valuation is arguably influential well into adulthood as
well (Pountain & Robins, 2000).
Coolness could even be considered a cultural style par-
ticularly suited to consumer societies insofar as these so-
cieties thrive on adolescent impulsiveness and novelty-
seeking in their constituent populations (Frank, 1997). Cul-
tural critics of cool often argue, in fact, that despite its
independent, innovative, and antiauthoritarian pose, cool-
ness bolsters an atomized and novelty-oriented construc-
tion of the self that is a prime target for consumer products
that quickly become obsolete and call for regular replace-
ment (Frank, 1997; Heath & Potter, 2004; Lasn, 1999).
Belk, Tian, and Paavola (2010) find support for an overlap
between coolness and consumerism in their qualitative re-
search among American and Finnish young adults. The au-
thors found, for instance, that most American youth gave
brand names rather than styles when asked what clothing
fashions were cool (p. 199).
At the same time, scholarly perspectives converge on the
idea of coolness as a kind of rebellious and emotionally
self-protecting stance against what is perceived to be main-
stream (Frank, 1997; Heath & Potter, 2004; Lasn, 1999).
For coolness to be linked to specific behaviors such as drug
use, or attitudes such as antiauthoritarianism, it ought to
represent some specific essence or set of discernible char-
acteristics. Though there may be cultural, subcultural, gen-
der, and generational disagreement on what is cool, there
may be a finite number of predominant guiding frame-
works.
Coolness and Social Desirability
It is possible that some of the guiding frameworks of cool
– perhaps even the predominant guiding frameworks – are
relatively unrelated to any historical origin of the construct.
176 I. Dar-Nimrod: Coolness: An Empirical Investigation
Journal of Individual Differences 2012; Vol. 33(3):175–185 © 2012 Hogrefe Publishing
The popular essence of what is considered cool today may
simply be what most people think they are supposed to find
desirable. In this case, cool preferences would be prefer-
ences for nonspecific positive dispositions and abilities
(e.g., sociability, positivity, intelligence, valued physical
characteristics), even as coolness continues to be concep-
tualized as an alternative value system. It is an empirical
question how much conceptual overlap coolness has with
more conventional notions of desirability, and whether
there is anything more to coolness than this overlap.
The Present Studies
Our research integrates several complementary approaches
to investigate the popular overlap in perceptions of cool-
ness and social desirability. In addition, we employ various
analyses to tease apart a sense of coolness that is meaning-
fully distinct from conventional notions of what is accept-
able or desirable.
In Study 1, participants generated characteristics that
they perceived to be cool. In Study 2, two samples of par-
ticipants rated dozens of these characteristics on two di-
mensions: coolness and social desirability. We first as-
sessed the correlation between coolness and social desir-
ability, and then examined the possible distinction between
these constructs. We also conducted an exploratory factor
analysis to simplify the diverse perceptions of cool into a
few distinct patterns of judgment. Lastly, in Study 3, par-
ticipants rated friends both on their coolness and on a va-
riety of personality descriptors that were identified as rel-
evant in the previous studies.
Study 1
Study 1 served to determine people’s unprompted under-
standing of what it is to be cool. Participants generated at-
tributes, behaviors, and individuals that they associated
with the word cool. In keeping with the personality focus
of our research, this study reports only the attributes.
Method
Participants
Respondents (205 female, 102 male, and 46 who did not
indicate their sex) to an advertisement completed an inter-
net study on coolness in return for a chance to win a cash
prize. Their ages ranged from 15 to 56 years (M = 21.23,
SD = 4.35). Respondents were predominantly of European
(n = 162) or Asian (n = 127) ethnicity; 64 were of other or
unidentified ethnicity.
Procedure and Materials
Advertisements posted on bulletin boards at a large Cana-
dian university invited people to log on to a website and
participate in a study about coolness. Once logged on, par-
ticipants were shown a consent form and indicated their
willingness to participate in the study. Participants were
asked to generate between five and eight adjectives that
they personally associate with coolness.
Results
Coolness Characteristics
Participants generated 1,639 entries for the adjectives as-
sociated with coolness. Most of the entries appeared once
(e.g., “accepted,” “zealous”), though some of them ap-
peared repeatedly [e.g., “confident” (54 times), “awesome”
(23 times)] or in different variations [e.g., “attractive” (28
times), “beautiful” (5), “handsome” (5)]. Three of the au-
thors read through the list of adjectives and independently
generated overarching semantic categories. Following the
individual generation of categories, the authors reached
consensus on how to categorize the adjectives, and these
categories are listed in Table 1
1
. Two trained research as-
sistants, blind to the overall purpose of the investigation,
grouped the adjectives judged to reflect a coherent seman-
tic category (87% agreement). The most widely mentioned
attributes were those representing friendliness, personal
competence, and trendiness. Adjectives that reflected pos-
itive undefined elements were also common, but adjectives
that reflect the kind of coolness described in previous
scholarly work (Danesi, 1994; Frank, 1997; Pountain &
Robins, 2000) such as rebelliousness, roughness, and mut-
ed emotions were not.
Table 1. Frequency of coolness-related adjectives and their
categories (Study 1, N = 353)
Category No. of
entries
No. of
different
adjectives
Examples of the
adjectives
Friendly 167 14 social, popular
Personal competence 166 26 smart, talented
Trendy 141 16 current, hip
Desirable 98 23 awesome, great
Attractive 91 15 handsome, hot
Unconventional 81 10 individualist, unique
Prosocial values 71 25 caring, honest
Humorous 66 5 funny, hilarious
Confident 65 6 assured, self-assured
Emotionally controlled 61 12 aloof, calm
Hedonist 53 3 fun, partyer
I. Dar-Nimrod: Coolness: An Empirical Investigation 177
© 2012 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Individual Differences 2012; Vol. 33(3):175–185
1 To conserve space only categories that received over 50 mentions were reported.
Discussion
Study 1 offers evidence that popular understandings of cool-
ness do not adhere to a specific, highly-constrained set of
characteristics. Overall, perceptions of positivity and social
desirability appeared to guide judgments of coolness. The
adjectives generated focused mostly on personality traits or
positively-valenced descriptors. Beyond generic attractive-
ness indicators (hot, sexy), very few people mentioned spe-
cific physical attributes. With regard to abilities, only intelli-
gence, humor, and related abilities as well as more generic
indicators of ability (talented) were mentioned.
The results illustrate why many perceive coolness as a
“flavor of the month” phenomenon: clearly laudatory but
nonspecific. Despite this heterogeneity, broad conceptual
categories emerged from participants’ unprompted re-
sponses. Thus, primary categories may have represented a
set of core characteristics, while the heterogeneity of re-
sponses pointed to individual taste.
Study 2
From a qualitative perspective, the concepts of coolness
and social desirability overlapped considerably in Study 1.
Study 2 was designed to quantify the extent of the overlap
between coolness and social desirability, and to demarcate
specific criteria for coolness
Method
Participants
Two samples were recruited for the study: sample 1 was
the same sample used in Study 1 (n = 353) and sample 2
included 155 students (22 men, 66 women)
2
recruited from
Introductory Psychology courses.
Materials
Coolness Rating Questionnaire (Sample 1 and Sample
2)
All 508 participants were asked to rate the coolness (1 = very
uncool,7=very cool) of 90 characteristics that had relevance
to coolness and social desirability. Thecharacteristicschosen,
which were drawn from the attributes offered by individuals
in a pretest as well as attributes identified in the scholarly
literature (e.g., Frank, 1997; Heath & Potter, 2004; Majors &
Mancini Billson, 1992; Pountain & Robins, 2000), reflected
14 coolness and desirability-relevant categories: unconven-
tionality, emotional control, irony, rebelliousness, roughness,
thrill-seeking, confidence, prosocial values and virtues, at-
tractiveness, personal competence, drive for success, hedo-
nism, trendiness, and friendliness. We determined these 14
categories by face value judgment as the 90 traits evaluated
were too numerous to reduce by factor analysis given the size
of the sample.
Social Desirability Rating Questionnaire
A subsample of participants from sample 1 (n = 297) rated
the same set of characteristics on how socially desirable
they considered them to be (1 = very socially undesirable,
7=very socially desirable).
Coolness vs. Social Desirability Rating Questionnaire
Sample 2 participants used a 6-point scale to determine
whether they considered a characteristic more cool or more
socially desirable (1 = much more cool,6=much more
socially desirable). We explained that in cases in which a
characteristic was perceived as both cool and socially de-
sirable (or neither cool nor socially desirable), participants
should indicate the degree to which coolness or social de-
sirability (or lack thereof) was a more dominant feature of
the characteristic.
Demographics
Participants were asked to indicate their age, sex, and eth-
nic background.
Procedure
Sample 1 participants completed the materials on the inter-
net. They logged on to the study’s website on which they
were informed of their rights as participants in a consent
form followed by a page that asked for their e-mail address
as contact information to notify them of lottery results. Fol-
lowing some open-ended questions, participants were
asked to complete the Coolness Rating Questionnaire fol-
lowed by the Social-Desirability Rating Questionnaire and
demographics. Sample 2 participants completed a paper-
and-pencil version of the Coolness Rating Questionnaire
followed by the Coolness vs. Social-Desirability Question-
naire and demographics in a take-home package, which
they returned in exchange for course credit.
Results
Correlations Between Coolness and Social
Desirability Ratings
For each of the 90 characteristics evaluated, there was a
positive and significant correlation between the character-
178 I. Dar-Nimrod: Coolness: An Empirical Investigation
Journal of Individual Differences 2012; Vol. 33(3):175–185 © 2012 Hogrefe Publishing
2 Data regarding the sex of 67 participants were not collected due to an administrative error.
istic’s rating of coolness and of social desirability. The as-
sociations ranged in magnitude from weak (e.g., r = .14, p
< .05 for thrill seeker) to strong (e.g., r = .58, p < .001 for
charismatic). The average correlation was r =.35.The
magnitudes of the correlations (see Table 2) suggest a con-
sistent relation between judgments of coolness and social
desirability across a broad range of evaluations, but the
constructs of coolness and social desirability are not inter-
changeable.
Coolness Characteristics Versus Social Desirability
Characteristics
For those in sample 1 completing both the coolness and the
social-desirability rating questionnaires, we conducted
paired-samples t-tests contrasting coolness and social de-
sirability ratings for each category (see Table 2). The cate-
gories that were rated as significantly more cool than so-
cially desirable were unconventionality, emotional control,
irony, rebelliousness, roughness, thrill seeking, and hedo-
nism. Confidence, prosocial values, attractiveness, person-
al competence, drive for success, trendiness, and friendli-
ness were rated as significantly more socially desirable
than cool. Controlling for sex or ethnicity did not change
the pattern of results, suggesting that perceptions of how to
differentiate coolness from social desirability are widely
shared.
For those in sample 2 completing the Coolness vs. Social
Desirability Questionnaire, we conducted one-sample t-
tests on the categories with the midpoint of the scale – 3.5
as the test value (see Table 2). Ratings significantly above
this test value were considered more cool; ratings signifi-
cantly below this test value were considered more socially
desirable. Thirteen of the categories were classified in gen-
eral accord with the classification in sample 1 (i.e., in both
samples, the same traits were considered more socially de-
sirable than cool, or more cool than socially desirable).
However, participants in sample 1 rated trendiness as more
socially desirable whereas participants in sample 2 rated it
as cooler.
Factor Analysis
In order to conduct an exploratory factor analysis, we com-
bined the Coolness Rating Questionnaire data from both
samples. Since parceling individual items into composites
improves the stability of factor analysis results (e.g., Burd-
sal & Vaughn, 1974), we collapsed the individual adjec-
tives into their respective categories. To produce unidimen-
sional constructs with adequate internal consistency, we
eliminated several items from certain categories. All 14
unidimensional categories were then entered into an ex-
ploratory factor analysis using principal axis factoring
(PAF) and direct-oblimin rotation. The results identified
only two factors with eigenvalues greater than one. A vis-
ual inspection of the scree plot also suggested a 2-factor
solution. The factors combined to account for approximate-
ly 80% of the variance in coolness ratings. The two factors
were largely orthogonal, r = –.09, ns, suggesting that the
one conception of coolness is not empirically incompatible
with the other. The first factor (eigenvalue prior to rotation
= 8.91) explained 63.6% of the variance, whereas the sec-
ond factor (eigenvalue = 2.27) explained 16.2% of the vari-
ance. Table 3 lists the pattern matrix of categories’ loading
on each factor. The items that loaded substantially (load-
ings greater than .3) on factor 1 were unconventionality,
emotional expressiveness (as opposed to emotional con-
trol), thrill seeking, confidence, prosocial values, attrac-
tiveness, personal competence, drive for success, hedo-
nism, trendiness, and friendliness. The items that loaded
highly on factor 2 were emotional control, irony, rebel-
liousness, antisociality (as opposed to prosocial values),
and roughness. We considered the underlying latent vari-
able for factor 1 to be a current indicator for active, overtly
expressive, status-conscious, desirability-oriented coolness
and the underlying latent variable for factor 2 to be a more
contrarian coolness, indifferent toward popular notions of
what affords socially desirable status.
Table 2. Correlations and mean differences between the
categories’ rating on coolness and social desirabil-
ity (Study 2)
Category r
a
Paired-sample
t
b
(df)
c
(Sample 1)
One-sample
t
b
(df)
c
(Sample 2)
More cool than desirable
Emotional control .41 13.34*** (188) 7.90*** (142)
Hedonism .32 2.66**(282) 5.86*** (151)
Irony .46 9.35*** (289) 13.49*** (153)
Rebelliousness .31 9.43*** (194) 15.36*** (143)
Roughness .37 7.90*** (284) 17.88*** (151)
Thrill-seeking .24 11.25*** (284) 13.01*** (152)
Unconventionality .24 13.46*** (289) 10.92*** (153)
More desirable than cool
Personal competence .36 –1.86# (283) –11.89*** (151)
Attractiveness .29 –6.70*** (284) –1.92# (150)
Prosocial values .36 –6.33*** (252) –15.04*** (149)
Confidence .38 –2.58** (277) –1.99* (149)
Drive for success .39 –8.04*** (290) –8.50*** (150)
Friendliness .36 –6.72*** (276) –7.25*** (151)
Mixed
Trendiness .39 –6.07*** (275) 2.03* (149)
Notes.
a
An average of correlations between coolness ratings and social
desirability ratings for each of the characteristics that are represented
by the category in sample 1 (e.g., the Roughness value represents the
average of the coolness and social desirability correlations of the 5
underlying characteristics).
b
Positive scores represent coolness dom-
inance.
c
Some participants did not provide ratings for particular items,
resulting in missing data. #p < .1, *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001.
I. Dar-Nimrod: Coolness: An Empirical Investigation 179
© 2012 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Individual Differences 2012; Vol. 33(3):175–185
Discussion
The results of Study 2 indicate an extensive conceptual
overlap between coolness and social desirability – and yet
suggest how a clear and broadly agreed-upon distinction
can be drawn between these two facets of coolness. All the
correlations between characteristics’ ratings for coolness
and their ratings for social desirability were positive and
significant. The categories of aggregated characteristics re-
vealed the same pattern. However, the range of the corre-
lations suggests that these constructs are not interchange-
able.
In addition, participants drew a clear and broadly
agreed-upon distinction between what is primarily cool and
what is primarily socially desirable. There was extensive
between-sample and between-instrument agreement on the
degree to which participants conceived each of the 14 cat-
egories more as coolness or as social desirability. Such
agreement was stable across sex and cultural background.
A factor analysis offered insight into the paradoxical na-
ture of coolness. On the one hand, the vast majority of the
variance in the categories’ rating on coolness was ex-
plained by one factor. This factor was constructed out of
12 elements, eight of which consistently rated as more so-
cially desirable than cool, and only three consistently rated
as more cool than socially desirable. These latter three el-
ements thrill-seeking, unconventionality, and hedonism
may represent more specific desirability valuations of a
youthful cohort, and may even be a product of the influence
of coolness on perceptions of social desirability. Thus, it is
plausible that being “unconventional,” “risk-taking,” and
“hedonistic” have all garnered more social approval in the
context of North American entrepreneurial and consumer
culture than other more-cool-than-desirable elements like
irony, roughness, rebelliousness, and detachment. In addi-
tion to more socially-desirable-than-cool elements, then,
factor 1 appears to capture a generally active and expres-
sive orientation, one that embraces all things outward-look-
ing and stimulating. This first factor may be understood as
a representation of the contemporary overlap between
coolness and social desirability as objects of striving for
peer approval. We termed this factor Cachet coolness.
The second factor, which explained a more modest
amount of the variance, was comprised of five elements
each rated as more cool than socially desirable. The ele-
ments of factor 2 either did not load on factor 1 (e.g., irony)
or loaded in the opposite direction (e.g., emotional control).
Rebelliousness had the highest loading, and is arguably its
most central theoretical element. This second factor better
embodies the core construct identified as cool in the schol-
arly literature (Frank, 1997; Heath & Potter, 2004; Poun-
tain & Robins, 2000). This factor presents coolness as more
opaque, less active, and less engaged: coolness as detach-
ment and camouflage. We termed this factor Contrarian
coolness.
Factor analyses present salient dividing lines for dis-
agreement, and there appear to be only two major dividing
lines with regard to coolness in our sample: the division
over whether or not socially desirable attributes are cool
and the division over whether or not contrarian attributes
are cool. Perceiving coolness as prodesirability or antide-
sirability is the dominant dividing line in coolness percep-
tions.
It is also important to note that the factors were uncor-
related. Many multifaceted personality constructs involve
correlated factors because they are developed based on in-
ternal-consistency driven statistical techniques. Other the-
oretically-developed constructs may be composed of rela-
Table 3. Factor structure underlying coolness (Study 2, N = 508)
Category (no. of characteristics) Factor loadings
Characteristics
a
α (r
b
) Factor 1 Factor 2
Rebelliousness (4) rebellious, disciplined (R) .52 (.22) .06 .78
Irony (2) ironic, sarcastic .58 (.41) .19 .40
Roughness (5) aggressive, tough .62 (.27) –.29 .69
Emotional control (5) aloof, warm(R) .72 (.33) .67 .52
Thrill-seeking (4) adventurous, cautious(R) .83 (.52) .91 .28
Unconventionality (4) mysterious, conventional(R) .78 (.55) .87 .21
Hedonism (3) fun, party animal .83 (.63) .92 .09
Prosocial values (10) caring, selfish(R) .95 (.63) .76 .46
Drive for success (3) ambitious, industrious .81 (.59) .86 –.19
Friendliness (8) friendly, disliked(R) .96 (.73) .95 –.17
Personal competence (7) charismatic, incompetent(R) .95 (.73) .95 –.10
Attractiveness (4) attractive, ugly(R) .92 (.74) .90 .12
Confidence (4) self-assured, timid(R) .83 (.55) .92 .04
Trendiness (6) current, old(R) .92 (.63) .91 .09
Notes.
a
Examples of characteristics composing the unidimensional category.
b
Cronbach’s α for scale and averaged interitem correlations among
the items for the category (in brackets). (R) – Reversed scored. Factor loadings greater than .3 are in bold.
180 I. Dar-Nimrod: Coolness: An Empirical Investigation
Journal of Individual Differences 2012; Vol. 33(3):175–185 © 2012 Hogrefe Publishing
tively distinct independent components (Streiner, 2003).
Such compound traits are composed of statistically uncor-
related constructs that span separate and complementary
content domains of the construct (Ones, Viswesvaran, &
Dilchert, 2005). The orthogonality of the two coolness fac-
tors suggests, oddly, that those who perceive coolness as
being more about desirable (cachet) traits do not necessar-
ily perceive it as being less about contrarianism as captured
by the second factor.
This pattern may imply that Contrarian coolness is a
kind of coolness that potentially transcends conventional
norms of valuation: i.e., something “beyond desirable and
undesirable.” The pattern may also indicate a mild halo
effect of the word “cool.” Thus the historical association of
contrarian traits with coolness, combined with the increas-
ingly shared positive valence for the word “cool,” may
have resulted in these contrarian traits being judged more
desirable than they might have been when cool was used
as a term of approval primarily among the countercultural.
Finding two clear factors that are potentially uncorrelat-
ed also suggests that coolness valuation falls into four ma-
jor quadrants
3
– those who deem both Cachet and Contrar-
ian coolness as cool (Quadrant 1), those who deem Cachet
but not Contrarian coolness as cool (Quadrant 2), those
who deem Contrarian but not Cachet coolness as cool
(Quadrant 3), and those who deem neither as cool (Quad-
rant 4). In our sample, 31% of participants were in Quad-
rant 1 (with factor scores > 0 on both Cachet and Contrarian
coolness), 36% were in Quadrant 2, 20% in Quadrant 3,
and 13% in Quadrant 4.
Study 3
In the first two studies participants were asked to evaluate
what was cool is in a rather explicit way, a task that many
participants had likely never previously undertaken. In
contrast, it should be more common for people to judge
others intuitively as cool or not, without explicitly knowing
why. Study 3 examined whether the criteria driving these
intuitive judgments reflect coolness as active, outward-
looking, expressive, and status-bolstering (Cachet cool-
ness) or coolness as withdrawn, rebellious, antisocial, and
opaque (Contrarian coolness).
Method
Participants
A group of 410 participants took part in Study 3. Their
names and contact information were given by their peers
who took part in different studies in response to the follow-
ing request:
On the following page we ask you to provide the name, rela-
tionship to you, and contact information of people that you
think can fairly (or somewhat fairly) evaluate you. We will
send them a request to provide us with a short evaluation of
your personality. Once we receive the information we will no
longer associate any of your answers with your identifying
information. Any of the materials you have provided us will
not be shared with these people and your information will be
completely confidential.
An experimenter contacted these candidates by e-mail re-
questing their evaluations of the person who provided us
with their name. Those who agreed to participate sent their
responses by e-mail for the chance to win $100. The re-
sponse rate was 53%.
Procedure
Participants provided us with ratings of a friend on 15 attri-
butes. Each participant rated his or her friend on coolness and
on each of the 14 categories identified in Study 2 (e.g.,
“friendly” to represent friendliness, “ambitious” to represent
drive for success). Two ratings for each descriptor were pro-
vided on 11-point scales (1 = not at all,6=average,11=
extremely) as a response to questions assessing their personal
evaluations of their friends (e.g., How adventurous do you
consider *name of the friend* to be?) and participants’ per-
ceptions of how others perceive their friends (e.g., How re-
bellious do you think people in general consider *name of the
friend* to be?). Table 4 presents the descriptors participants
used to evaluate their friends and the categories that each of
these descriptors was meant to represent.
Table 4. Categories, adjectives, and factor structure of
friends’ coolness ratings (Study 3, N = 410)
Category Adjective Factor loadings
Factor 1 Factor 2
Rebelliousness Rebellious –.08 .71
Irony Ironic .00 .39
Roughness Tough .04 .58
Emotional control Detached .39 .18
Thrill-seeking Adventurous .24 .62
Unconventionality Conventional .19 –.01
Hedonism Party animal .13 .55
Prosocial values Caring .71 .15
Drive for success Ambitious .43 .27
Friendliness Friendly .70 –.17
Personal competence Charismatic .57 .28
Attractiveness Attractive .62 .16
Confidence Confident .38 .39
Trendiness Trendy .49 .18
Note. Factor loadings greater than .3 are in bold.
I. Dar-Nimrod: Coolness: An Empirical Investigation 181
© 2012 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Individual Differences 2012; Vol. 33(3):175–185
3 We wish to thank an anonymous reviewer as well as one of our research assistants, Christina Maharaj, for this observation.
Results
The correlations between the items that represented person-
al and the general ratings were very high for each descriptor
(rs = .74–93). To increase the reliability of the measure, we
averaged the personal and general ratings, creating a com-
posite rating for each descriptor.
Factor Analysis
The 14 composite descriptors were entered into an explorato-
ry factor analysis using PAF and direct-oblimin rotation with
direction to extract two factors. The results of the factor anal-
ysis are reported in Table 4. The factors combined to account
for approximately 43% of the variance. The two factors were
moderately correlated, r = .29, p < .001. The first factor (ei-
genvalue = 3.99) explained about 29% of the variance,
whereas the second factor (eigenvalue = 1.95) explained
about 14% of the variance
4
. Table 4 liststhe descriptors’ load-
ings(pattern matrix) on each factor. The descriptors thatload-
ed substantially on factor 1 were friendly, ambitious, charis-
matic, confident, attractive, personally competent, and
trendy. The descriptors that loaded substantially on factor 2
were ironic, rebellious, tough, party animal, confident, and
adventurous. The descriptor “conventional” did not load sub-
stantially on either factor, and “detached” loaded negatively
on the first factor. Regression-based factor scores were saved
for further analysis.
Regression Analysis
To evaluate the relationships between coolness and the ex-
tracted factors, the factors’ scores were entered as predic-
tors in a hierarchical regression analysis predicting the
composite coolness evaluation. In step one, the first factor
predicted 37% of the variance in coolness (R
2
= .374,
F(1, 408) = 244.01, p < .001). Adding the second factor in
the second step significantly added to the variance ex-
plained (ΔR
2
= .045, F(1, 407) = 31.67, p < .001). Both
factors had significant effects on coolness evaluations with
factor 1 having a stronger relationship (β = .55, p < .001)
than factor 2 (β = .22, p < .001).
Discussion
Study 3 adds to Studies 1 and 2 both by measuring the
coolness evaluations concretely rather than abstractly and
by demonstrating the independent associations of each fac-
tor with coolness valuations. Similar to the previous stud-
ies, the findings of Study 3 suggest that ratings of coolness
are primarily about peer-relevant social desirability. Under
factor analysis, the two previously-identified factors large-
ly emerged as they did in Study 2, with friendliness being
a hallmark of the first factor (Cachet coolness) and caring,
attractiveness, personal competence, and drive for success
also loading substantially. The second factor (Contrarian
coolness) was (again) dominated by rebelliousness as well
as irony and toughness. The factor loadings found in this
study were quite similar to those in Study 2. The pattern
regarding emotionality was partially retained with the ca-
chet factor showing a positive relation with emotional ex-
pressiveness whereas the contrarian factor showed a posi-
tive, albeit small, relationship with muted emotions.
The main cross-study discrepancies in factor loadings
involve the characteristics thrill-seeking and hedonistic,
which loaded on the contrarian factor in this study but not
in Study 2. Nonetheless, these particular results are consis-
tent with the t-test results in Study 2, in which thrill-seeking
and hedonism were both rated as more cool than desirable.
Assuming that hedonism and thrill-seeking are desirable
among the contemporary young, having these elements on
factor 2 rather than factor 1 may contribute to the positive,
rather than null, correlation between the factors in this sam-
ple (in other words, had these elements loaded on factor 1
instead, the factors might be less positively correlated).
We noted earlier that hedonism, thrill-seeking, and un-
conventionality – though rated as “more cool than socially
desirable” – may have loaded on the first factor in Study 2
because their associations with success as either entrepre-
neurs or consumers in North American culture have in-
creased their perceived cachet. When considering the cool-
ness of these elements in the abstract, we must admit that
this perceived cachet may have superseded intuitions that
these elements are more-cool-than-desirable (and so they
loaded on the more-desirable-than-cool factor Cachet
coolness, factor 1). Perhaps determining the relevance of
hedonism and thrill-seeking to real-life peers may have
more effectively activated the distinguishing intuitions that
contributed to judgments (in Study 2) that these traits are
more cool-than-desirable thus these elements loaded on
the more-cool-than-desirable (contrarian) factor, factor 2.
Yet insofar as these elements were still perceived to have
some cachet, their loading on factor 2 may have contributed
to the positive correlation among the factors in this study.
The factors may also be correlated because any halo ef-
fect of the word “cool” may be particularly powerful when
rating the coolness of people. That is to the extent judg-
ments of cool are determined at all by contrarian features
once that judgment is made – it may influence judgments
about other traits that are perceived as positive (i.e., most
of the cachet traits): If you perceive a peer as rebellious,
ironic, rough, etc., then you perceive him or her as cool (by
the old-time definition); and if you perceive him or her as
cool (a positively valenced word), then you (by the halo
182 I. Dar-Nimrod: Coolness: An Empirical Investigation
Journal of Individual Differences 2012; Vol. 33(3):175–185 © 2012 Hogrefe Publishing
4 In a different analysis that did not restrict the number of factors to extract, three factors were extracted. The third factor (eigenvalue = 1.35)
explained less than 10% of the variance and had no interpretive meaning providing support for our methodological restriction.
effect) perceive him or her as friendly, competent, gener-
ous, etc. Thus, the halo effect might win out over the se-
mantic tension between cachet and contrarian traits when
judging the coolness of actual people. These explanations
are necessarily speculative, however.
General Discussion
All three studies converge to suggest that the popular un-
derstanding of coolness in our samples of young adults is
driven (primarily) both by perceptions of peer-relevant so-
cial desirability and (secondarily) by the darker history of
the word cool. The rebellious nature of coolness was clear-
ly borne out as an aspect of the construct that is relatively
independent from conventionally desirable characteristics
such as attractiveness and friendliness.
In Study 1, participants were more likely to mention
traits that were generically desirable rather than traits iden-
tified as markers of cool in the scholarly literature, though
mentions of either kind of trait were much more common
than mentions of traits in direct tension with Cachet cool-
ness (e.g., no one mentioned “ugly,” “stupid,” or “lazy”) or
in direct tension with Contrarian coolness (e.g., no one
mentioned “obedient,” “earnest,” or “obsessive”).
The results of Study 2 both confirmed and qualified
these findings. For every trait examined, its coolness rating
correlated with its social desirability rating, but the magni-
tude of these correlations did not suggest an interchange-
ability of the constructs, and two methods of contrasting
coolness with social desirability showed a largely consis-
tent pattern of evaluations with regard to what was more
cool than socially desirable and what was more socially
desirable than cool. A factor analysis also indicated that,
although the predominant factor for judging coolness was
based on socially desirable traits, the darker, more contrar-
ian features were still relevant to perceptions of coolness.
Study 3 corroborated these results by finding that percep-
tions of coolness in other people are driven by both cachet
and contrarian factors, with an emphasis on the former.
These findings reflect the predominant popular under-
standing of cool intrinsic to this particular population of
young adults. One may interpret this evidence as corrobo-
rating both dictionary definitions of the word (as little more
than popular slang for “good”), and yet not fully contradict-
ing previous theoretical accounts for this construct, which
have mostly focused on the contrarian features of coolness
(e.g., Danesi, 1994; Majors & Mancini Billson, 1992;
Pountain & Robins, 2000). Those who call a person “cool”
appear to be conveying discernible information – which is
perhaps expected since meaningless or infinitely generic
words do not become embedded in popular language (All-
port, 1937; Goldberg, 1993).
The two underlying factors that our research has identi-
fied coexist under a single coolness umbrella. Both factors
figure prominently in the history of the word cool, but the
rebellious and detached-from-the-mainstream style of
coolness has arguably had the longer history with its origin
in the early 20th century, predominantly African American,
jazz movement. Our finding that contrarian coolness is less
evident in todays popular conceptualization of coolness
(among our mostly educated, young, Canadian, ethnically
white and Asian, predominantly female samples) does not
necessarily mean that its history of social influence is com-
ing to an end. To the extent our samples represent a wide-
spread zeitgeist, our results likely mean that popularizing
the word cool for decades a term of exclusively or pri-
marily countercultural approval has gradually changed
the perception of coolness.
Insofar as the descriptor “cool” has gradually come to
be used over time in the mainstream in a more positive
sense, traits that are generically positive may have become
more likely to be described as cool – and in some cases (as
in our studies) the word “cool” may even be more readily
associated with generically positive traits than with traits
signifying rebellion, irony, roughness, etc. To the extent our
results are population-specific, it is plausible that Contrar-
ian traits might be considered in other populations more
emblematic of coolness than Cachet traits (and in these oth-
er samples, Contrarian traits may also explain more of the
variance than Cachet traits). Indeed, examining cultural
and generational variation in preferences for the Contrarian
vs. Cachet conception of coolness is a fertile subject of
investigation for future studies.
Our distinction between Cachet and Contrarian coolness
may shed light on a multitude of other social and psycho-
logical issues as well. It has been hypothesized that cool-
ness posturing serves a self-defensive function (Connor,
1995; Majors & Mancini Billson, 1992). It is a plausible
hypothesis that Contrarian coolness elements may shield a
self-perceived outsiders sense of self-worth by creating
cognitive (rebelliousness), emotional (detachment), and
behavioral (roughness) defenses against the judgments of
mainstream culture. To the extent that these defenses be-
come normative in some subcultures, one would expect
that its members would score higher on measures of Con-
trarian coolness. Moreover, these norms could influence a
host of actual behaviors (Ajzen, 1991). Adopting certain
attitudes or theories about the world has been shown to be
an effective buffer for those who might otherwise be ad-
versely affected by viewing themselves as a minority or a
member of a lower-status group (e.g., Dar-Nimrod & Hei-
ne, 2006, 2011).
Our finding that Cachet and Contrarian coolness are per-
ceived as potentially orthogonal or even moderately posi-
tively correlated is consistent with Frank’s (1997) sugges-
tion that coolness as a counterculture force may no longer
reflect an actually rebellious value system, but rather a kind
of rebellious-looking conformity to current social forces,
particularly consumerism. In addition to consumerism, the
cool pose may confer other disadvantages: susceptibility to
peer pressure (Cachet), smoking (Contrarian), drug use
(Contrarian), and sex before sexual understanding (Cachet
I. Dar-Nimrod: Coolness: An Empirical Investigation 183
© 2012 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Individual Differences 2012; Vol. 33(3):175–185
and Contrarian). However, the cool pose may also confer
advantages such as prosociality (Cachet) and self-concept
protection (Contrarian). In addition, much of the promise
and danger of coolness lies in its association with activities,
artifacts, and symbols (e.g., extreme sports, body modifi-
cation). These are fertile areas for future research.
To our knowledge, the present research is the first at-
tempt to quantitatively investigate the concept of coolness,
and as such several limitations deserve comment. First, we
did not collect behavioral data. Investigation of how per-
ceptions of coolness affect behavior is an important next
step. Second, the relationships we uncovered between spe-
cific attributes and the coolness construct have the usual
ambiguities of correlations
5
. These attributes may represent
the defining elements of coolness (in our sample), but they
may also represent antecedents of the construct or even the
consequence of being a cool person. We suggest that, sim-
ilar to other constructs that do not reflect a cohesive set of
attributes (Streiner, 2003), coolness can be reached in mul-
tiple ways, and as such it may not have necessary or suffi-
cient defining elements, i.e., those who are very attractive
may need less of the other elements (e.g., drive for success,
friendliness) to be considered cool by the cachet criteria;
rebellious persons may need less irony to be considered
cool by the contrarian criteria. Nevertheless, this is a spec-
ulative suggestion and more investigation is needed.
Third, though our diverse methods of measurement
yielded similar results, most of the data are restricted to a
particular age cohort and geographical location. The extent
to which our findings generalize to different populations,
especially marginalized cultures and subcultures, remains
to be explored. Though different measurement outcomes
may be obtained in different samples, the quantitative tools
employed here might still work as effective measures in a
diverse set of populations, and could in fact be used to ex-
amine cultural, gender, and generational differences.
Additional systematic investigation of coolness as a psy-
chological construct may also provide practical insight into
the nature of diverse attitudes and behaviors that have been
investigated extensively but rarely with coolness in mind:
the nature of sex differences (e.g., does any sex difference
found for Contrarian coolness reflect presentational or sub-
stantive variation?), group dynamics (e.g., can we prime
Cachet coolness to facilitate positive group dynamics?), in-
dividualism vs. collectivism (e.g., does coolness have a role
in increasing individualist orientation?), love and sex (e.g.,
do the coolness facets increase attraction controlling for
known relevant variables such as similarity, familiarity, and
physical appeal?), school performance (e.g., does Contrar-
ian coolness hinder academic efforts?), health behaviors
and utilization of medical services (e.g., do presentational
issues that are spun from the contrarian facet’s relationship
with invulnerability affect early detection of physical ail-
ments? Or the likelihood of engaging in risky, health-dam-
aging behaviors?), and prejudice (e.g., can priming the
coolness facets be used to mitigate prejudice?) to name
but a few. A coolness-minded perspective may also offer
insights into important matters that have received less at-
tention, such as individual and group-based esthetic differ-
ences, cultural production, and innovation.
Similar to research on personality-relevant individual
differences in music preferences (Rentfrow & Gosling,
2003), we argue that the study of individual differences can
be enriched by a focus on novel constructs that play a cen-
tral role in people’s lives. In this spirit our research findings
provide a contemporary understanding of the cool person-
ality in a manner that identifies new directions for basic
and applied research endeavors.
Acknowledgment
This research was supported by the grants from the Social
Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and
T32MH18911, K08AG031328 from the National Institute
of Aging.
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Accepted for publication: February 15, 2012
Ilan Dar-Nimrod
Department of Psychiatry
University of Rochester
Medical Center
300 Crittenden BLVD, Box “PSYCH”
Rochester, NY 14642
USA
Tel. +1 585 273-4483
E-mail ilan_dar-nimrod@urmc.rochester.edu
I. Dar-Nimrod: Coolness: An Empirical Investigation 185
© 2012 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Individual Differences 2012; Vol. 33(3):175–185
... Namely the first factor "Cachet coolness" reflected active, status-promoting, Frontiers in Psychology 06 frontiersin.org socially desirable characteristics (Dar-Nimrod et al., 2012. The second factor "Contrarian coolness" reflected rebellious, rough, and emotionally-controlled characteristics. ...
... The second factor "Contrarian coolness" reflected rebellious, rough, and emotionally-controlled characteristics. The authors concluded "coolness is reducible to two conceptually coherent and distinct personality orientations: one outward focused and attuned to external valuations, the other more independent, rebellious, and countercultural" (Dar-Nimrod et al., 2012;p. 175). ...
... Of note, is that Contrarian coolness is what the Dutch youth appear to be referring to with the phrase "stoer doen" ("acting cool/tough") in the above-mentioned qualitive study (Lochs, 2020;Tabor, 2020). However, it is still questionable to what extent the abovementioned findings (Dar-Nimrod et al., 2012 that are primarily based on university students would fully generalize to adolescents, but they could provide a starting-point for such research on adolescents. ...
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Adolescents are stereotypically viewed as risk-takers (“stereotypical risk-takers”) in science, mainstream media, fictional literature and in everyday life. However, increasing research suggests that adolescents do not always engage in “heightened” risk-taking, and adolescents’ own perspectives (motives) on risk-taking are largely neglected in research. Hence, this paper is a commentary and review with two aims. First, taking a cross-national perspective, we discuss the definition of adolescence and risk behavior. We argue that much of the research on what drives adolescent risk behavior (e.g., substance use) focuses on the harms that this behavior promotes rather than on the need to explore and grow into adulthood. Thereafter we summarize the dominant approach to studying motives behind substance use, which has mostly considered young adults, and which has typically not focused on adolescents’ own self-generated motives. The few empirical studies (including one of our qualitative studies) on adolescents’ own motivations for engaging in risk behavior (i.e., cannabis use, alcohol use, and tobacco smoking) show that the most frequently mentioned motives by adolescents were being cool/tough, enjoyment, belonging, having fun and experimenting and coping. Interestingly, the “cool/tough identity” motive is virtually overlooked in research on adolescent risk-taking. The above-mentioned motives, however, generally support newer theories, such as the Developmental Neuro-Ecological Risk-taking Model (DNERM) and the Life-span Wisdom Model that suggest that adolescents’ motivations to engage in risk-taking include experimentation, identity development, explorative behavior, and sensation seeking, all of which run counter to the stereotype of adolescents engaging in risk-taking due to “storm and stress.” Hence, we also briefly consider additional recent attempts to study positive forms of risk taking. Second, extrapolating from sociological/criminological theories on labeling, we suggest that caution is warranted when (inaccurately) labeling adolescents as the “stereotypical risk-takers,” because this can instigate a risk-taking identity in adolescents and/or motivate them to associate with risk-taking peers, which could in turn lead to maladaptive forms of risk-taking. Empirical research testing these hypotheses is needed. To conclude we argue that research on adolescent risk-taking could further benefit from considering adolescent’s own motivations, which is also in line with the participatory approach advocated by international children’s rights standards.
... Cool has majorly been associated with subcultural and countercultural values (Ferguson, 2011) which promote rebelliousness, independence, autonomy and moral deviance (Warren and Campbell, 2014;Dar-Nimrod et al., 2018;Bird and Tapp, 2008). Cool has been found to determine consumers' music preferences (Dar-Nimrod et al., 2012), fashion choices (Dalton and Wang, 2014), technology orientations (Bruun et al., 2016) and even socially undesirable behaviors such as smoking and drugging (Bird and Tapp, 2008;Dalton and Wang, 2014). Countercultural theorists argue that certain sections of the population, especially younger generations (Pountain and Robins, 2000;Bird and Tapp, 2008), view opposition of the dominant culture as central to their social identity (Ferguson, 2011). ...
... While millennials agree that their generational members are buying counterfeits Figure 2 Results of the structural model Counterfeit luxury consumption Sameeullah Khan, Asif Iqbal Fazili and Irfan Bashir due to their countercultural values, they seek to dissociate their generation from such values. These findings could possibly signal millennials' tendency to present a socially desirable image of their generation and, thus, link cool with social desirability (Dar-Nimrod et al., 2012). Notwithstanding these unexpected findings, our study provides empirical support to Francis et al.'s (2015) theorizing that the cool image of counterfeits may appeal to millennials' subcultural values. ...
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Purpose This paper aims to theorize counterfeit luxury consumption among millennials from a generational identity perspective. Design/methodology/approach The paper proposes and tests a model of counterfeit buying behavior using an online survey of 467 millennial respondents. The study uses multi-item measures from the extant literature and uses the structural equation modeling technique to test the proposed hypotheses. Findings The findings reveal when millennials have a self-defining relationship with their generation, they tend to internalize the generational norm pertaining to counterfeit luxury consumption. Millennials’ counterfeit related values: market mavenism, postmodernism, schadenfreude and public self-consciousness contribute to their generational identity. Moreover, market mavenism, cool consumption and public self-consciousness establish counterfeit luxury consumption as a generational norm. Practical implications The findings of this paper suggest that the expertise and influence of market mavens can be used to deter counterfeit consumption. Moreover, luxury brands must communicate a cool image to offset the rebellious image of counterfeits. Further, from a standardization versus adaption standpoint, the generational perspective allows for the standardization of anti-counterfeiting campaigns. Originality/value The paper makes a novel contribution to the counterfeiting literature by demonstrating that millennials pursue counterfeit luxury brands when they pledge cognitive allegiance to their generation. The paper, thus, extends the identity perspective of counterfeit luxury consumption to group contexts. The authors also test and validate the role of descriptive norms in group contexts by introducing the construct generational norm to counterfeiting literature.
... Moreover, most qualitative studies on brand coolness have used smaller sample, thus creating desirability bias and threat to generalizability. The extant literature has identified from a single construct (Dar-Nimrod et al., 2012) that different studies use different components of "perceived coolness" (Sundar et al., 2014;Warren and Campbell, 2014;Bruun et al., 2016;Raptis et al., 2017), which limit our understanding of perceived coolness. Although some studies have shed light on the conceptualization of perceived coolness (Rahman, 2013), there is scarcity of empirical research on non-logical network of brand coolness (Chen and Chou, 2019;Cha, 2020;Loureiro et al., 2020;Apaolaza et al., 2021;Liu et al., 2021;Tiwari et al., 2021). ...
... Nowadays, coolness has been deeply studied in several areas, i.e., marketing (Warren et al., 2019;Loureiro et al., 2020), anthropology (Dar-Nimrod et al., 2012), psychology, and sociology, and characteristics of people and things have been mainly studied by coolness (Dar-Nimrod et al., 2018;Warren et al., 2019). Coolness had also been considered in the title of its origins (Nancarrow et al., 2002), vernacular usage, attributes (Rahman, 2013), elements of culture, characteristics of personality, and features of goods (Sundar et al., 2014;Bruun et al., 2016). ...
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In this era of razor-edge competition, marketers strive to outperform their rivals by improving their brands. Increasing brand coolness may be the best way to do it. This study used a stimulus organism response (SOR) model by integration with brand attribution theory to conduct a cross sectional study using purposive sampling technique and surveying young consumers of smart gadgets in Pakistan. A total of 1,178 responses were received and analyzed by structural equation modeling. The results found a positive impact of brand coolness (stimulus) on brand love and brand engagement (both modeled as organism). Brand experience moderated these links. Brand love and brand engagement also mediated the relationship between brand coolness and consumer well-being and delight (both modeled as response). The findings suggest a very important contribution to theory and practice by testing unexploited outcomes of brand coolness. Especially, this study contributes to the consumer well-being literature, again an unexploited aspect of marketing literature. Despite the uniqueness of the findings, the cross sectional design of this study remains a major limitation. Future research may supplement the findings with the help of longitudinal studies. Marketers and practitioners may benefit from this study by improving the coolness of their brands so they may not only increase consumer engagement with the brand but they will also make consumers happy with their brands.
... Marketing researchers agree that brand coolness has a positive valence based on multiple attributes that have been traditionally associated with branded objects/goods (Dar-Nimrod et al., 2012). In this context, brand coolness is based on a subjective criterion entirely dependent on consumers' perceptions of brands. ...
... Overall, a brand identified as cool, as the result of unique and distinctive brand associations, is expected to have a competitive advantage that enhances and reinforces its relationships with consumers through loyalty behaviors (Keller, 2003;Yoo and Donthu, 2001). Thus, in line with prior researchers who agree that cool brands must have subjectively superior value compared with other options in a particular sector (Belk et al., 2010;Dar-Nimrod et al., 2012;Tiwari et al., 2021), we propose that service brands recognized as cool by consumers may have the capacity to enhance loyalty through multiple combinations of brand attributes related to brand coolness. More formally, we present our first hypothesis: H1. ...
As service brands need to find new methods to overcome consumers' distrust of physical spaces in the post-COVID-19 era, we explore how niche and mass service brands can recover their experiential value through perceptions of coolness. In three studies, we evaluate service brand coolness and its consequences for communal brand connection and loyalty. In Studies 1 and 2, we examine consumers' thoughts on coolness and communal connection when describing their encounters with service brands. In Study 3, we test the relations among service brand coolness, communal-brand connection, and loyalty. Our findings show that for both niche and mass firms, service brand coolness similarly enhances communal-brand connection and loyalty.
... To be cool is to 'diverge from the norm in a way that seems appropriate ' (Warren & Campbell, 2014: 557). Though commonly discussed in terms of adolescent development and rebellion 2001;Dar-Nimrod et al., 2012), coolness has its roots in Black American culture as keeping cool was a key survival tactic and required one to exert control (Bucholtz, 2001;Majors & Billson, 1992;Morgan, 1998;Zimmerman & Griebe, 2014). Staying cool began as a ' form of resistance to the denial of life opportunities generally and of recognition and respect in particular ' experienced by Blacks in America and manifested through casual improvisation, creative expression and self-control (Zimmerman & Griebe, 2014: 27). ...
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Whereas Black identity is the standard for cool, nerds are typically seen as anything but. Nerd identity is exemplified by characters who are awkward, highly intelligent, lonely and undoubtedly uncool. This article seeks to extend scholarship on nerd identity by critically examining the fictional representation of the Black nerd Burton ‘Gus’ Guster, a lead character in the American program Psych (2006 – 2014) and subsequent made-for-television movies. Gus both embodies and extends our understanding of nerdiness by considering not only Blackness, but also types of loneliness. Despite meaningful friendships and a close-knit family, Gus experiences loneliness throughout the series. It is not until the made-for-television movies that we see Gus enter into a long-term, committed intimate relationship, thereby addressing the most painful type of loneliness.
... Brand Coolness is defined in many ways through the study of literature, psychology, sociology, anthropology (Dar-Nimrod, Hansen, & Proulx, 2012), as well as marketing (Belk, Tian, & Paavola, 2010). In general, greatness is studied and defined as a particular individual or object. ...
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Purpose: This study aims to analyze the effects of Brand Coolness, Brand Love, and Self-brand Connections on Word-of-mouth positively. The retail format of Starbuck in Vietnam is successful in distribution applied when it becomes the place for customers to express themselves. Consumers are now aware about Brand Coolness of the Starbucks developed in Vietnam then turn to love the brand of store and connect themselves to the brand. In this study, the closest relationship to form the basis for consumer Word-of-mouth about a brand is the relationship between Brand Coolness and Brand Love. Results: The findings show that Brand Coolness and Brand Love are important value factors in customers' minds toward their behavior, form there, it will contribute to the brand store in distribution. Research design, data and methodology: This article used the quantitative technique utilizing PLS-SEM software to test the hypothesis with 600 samples. The data obtained shows that people have Word-of-mouth about the retail format of Starbucks in Ho Chi Minh City. Conclusion: The study has demonstrated the conclusions and proposed solutions to help beverage brands build Brand Love, thereby achieving coolness, connecting brands with themselves, leading to customer Word-of-mouth in a positive way towards retail format.
... Brand Coolness is defined in many ways through the study of literature, psychology, sociology, anthropology (Dar-Nimrod, Hansen, & Proulx, 2012), as well as marketing (Belk, Tian, & Paavola, 2010). In general, greatness is studied and defined as a particular individual or object. ...
Full-text available
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Purpose: This study aims to analyze the effects of Brand Coolness, Brand Love, and Self-brand Connections on Word-of-mouth positively. The retail format of Starbuck in Vietnam is successful in distribution applied when it becomes the place for customers to express themselves. Consumers are now aware about Brand Coolness of the Starbucks developed in Vietnam then turn to love the brand of store and connect themselves to the brand. In this study, the closest relationship to form the basis for consumer Word-of-mouth about a brand is the relationship between Brand Coolness and Brand Love. Results: The findings show that Brand Coolness and Brand Love are important value factors in customers' minds toward their behavior, form there, it will contribute to the brand store in distribution. Research design, data and methodology: This article used the quantitative technique utilizing PLS-SEM software to test the hypothesis with 600 samples. The data obtained shows that people have Word-of-mouth about the retail format of Starbucks in Ho Chi Minh City. Conclusion: The study has demonstrated the conclusions and proposed solutions to help beverage brands build Brand Love, thereby achieving coolness, connecting brands with themselves, leading to customer Word-of-mouth in a positive way towards retail format.
... Brand Coolness is defined in many ways through the study of literature, psychology, sociology, anthropology (Dar-Nimrod, Hansen, & Proulx, 2012), as well as marketing (Belk, Tian, & Paavola, 2010). In general, greatness is studied and defined as a particular individual or object. ...
Full-text available
Article
Purpose: This study aims to analyze the effects of Brand Coolness, Brand Love, and Self-brand Connections on Word-of-mouth positively. The retail format of Starbuck in Vietnam is successful in distribution applied when it becomes the place for customers to express themselves. Consumers are now aware about Brand Coolness of the Starbucks developed in Vietnam then turn to love the brand of store and connect themselves to the brand. In this study, the closest relationship to form the basis for consumer Word-of-mouth about a brand is the relationship between Brand Coolness and Brand Love. Results: The findings show that Brand Coolness and Brand Love are important value factors in customers' minds toward their behavior, form there, it will contribute to the brand store in distribution. Research design, data and methodology: This article used the quantitative technique utilizing PLS-SEM software to test the hypothesis with 600 samples. The data obtained shows that people have Word-of-mouth about the retail format of Starbucks in Ho Chi Minh City. Conclusion: The study has demonstrated the conclusions and proposed solutions to help beverage brands build Brand Love, thereby achieving coolness, connecting brands with themselves, leading to customer Word-of-mouth in a positive way towards retail format.
... Perceived Coolness Dar-Nimrod et al. (2012) state that cool is still a vague term in several studies. Nevertheless, there are some core coolness guidelines with general agreement. ...
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