the science of cool

random thoughts

“Behavioral scientists have spilled quite a bit of empirical ink on what makes something cool. They’ve basically whittled the phenomenon down to 4 main traits:

1_Cool is a social perception, not an inherent quality

2_Coolness is relative

3_Coolness is almost universally positive

4_Something that’s cool tends to diverge from the norm

It’s this fourth trait —the unconventionality of cool— that seems to be the key. But being unconventional alone is not enough to be cool. And, in fact, designs or brands that diverge too much from the norm, run the risk of being not just uncool but strongly disliked.

In the end, cool designs tend to be ‘appropriately’ unconventional —that is, they challenge unnecessary norms and aren’t too extreme themselves. So being cool requires a very delicate balance of doing something that shows that you go your own way and do your own thing, but you do it in a way that is socially desirable or at least acceptable.” 

Eric Jaffe writes about cities, history and behavioral science

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