What does it mean to be cool? Historically speaking, coolness is said to be born out of slavery, as male slaves used it as a show of masculinity when they were deprived of masculine identities through the traumas of being sold, tortured and worked (Lauer, 2018). Today’s definition of cool is a far cry from the old definition, yet it is difficult to explain. In marketing, it has been called an “intangible resource” (Verma, 2014). Among children, it is what is required to gain approval from peer groups (Jamison, Wison & Ryan, 2015). Yet, cool people may be extroverts or introverts, and they may be enjoyable or aloof. What one person finds cool may be different from another, and other people may find things cool because a group of people found it cool. It is an attribute that can describe experiences, people and things, yet how they became cool is fairly subjective. The term has conflated meanings that are intertwined in a way that makes the term elusive (Lauer, 2018). For the purposes of this paper, the operational definition of cool will be the social attributes of a person that elevate him or her to a heightened level of admiration by peers.
Quantitative research has been developed about the concept of cool through the use of surveys. One study aimed to show a relationship between perceived academic achievement and perceived coolness. It collected data from surveyed adolescents who were asked information about who they perceived to be cool and who they perceived to be academically successful. These students were surveyed again at the end of the school year to look for changes. The results were able to be quantified because of the survey’s design. Coolness was a positive factor for girls and a negative factor for boys in relation to perceived academic achievement. The results varied among different ethnic groups (Jamison et al., 2015). In this study, perceived coolness was the independent variable and did not vary throughout the experiment. Perceived academic achievement was the dependent variable. Although the concept of this study is understood, both variables are very weak when it comes to studying the actual impact of coolness.
Qualitative research has been performed in the marketing world in order to find out how coolness can sell goods and services. One study claims coolness was “Not easy to define, but it is nevertheless recognized by people” (Verma, 2015). This is why it is so desirable to consumer psychologists who claim people buy “cool” items in order to feel good about themselves but cannot perfectly determine what cool means (Warren, Koley & Pezzuti, 2018).
The research reviewed for this study design involved coolness in relation to perceived academic achievement and the salability of goods and services; therefore, the study will be a correlational study between perceived coolness of high schoolers is related to the quality of their cell phones. Quality will be determined by age and original cost. Neither variable is an independent or a dependent variable because the purpose of the study is to find any statistically significant relationships. In other words, it may be that coolness causes a high schooler to pursue the latest and greatest technology in order to maintain coolness. It may also be that people with higher-scale phones are perceived as cool because of their phones. It may also be that there is no statistical correlation.
The strengths of this study design are that the surveys given to high school students will be confidential, and the measurement of the quality of cell phones is quantitative. It will be built from a formula combining the original price of the phone plus depreciation. The other strength of the study will be the yes or no question that determines whether or not the respondent knows what type of phone the indicated persons have, which will help to determine causality. The strength of correlational studies are that they are a good starting point to determine if there is a reasonable need for further research based on the determination of relationship. This study would reveal a relationship between cell phone consumerism and coolness versus a lack of a relationship, which would either confirm the need for more research or confirm that there is no relationship, so time is not wasted developing a design with control groups.
The weakness of this study is that perceived coolness is difficult to confirm via survey, and there could be many other variables that influence cell phone choices such as economic, parental and academic influences. A relationship or a lack of relationship will not be certain because of the many factors that cannot be ruled out. For instance, cell phones may be more often given to students by parents due to plan renewals versus having any input from the student. However, this may impact coolness. The validity of this research design is achieved by sampling a large number of students from different regions of the country, but it does suffer from validity challenges due to using perceived coolness as a variable, which is difficult to determine. Reliability also increases by sampling a large number of students, but it is uncertain whether or not the results may change throughout the year as students get to know one another and judge more on character than materialism.
Being cool is a subjective term, but there may be a relationship between coolness and the quality of cell phones. This could be good information for teens, school counselors and cell phone companies. Today’s teens are heavily involved in cell-phone use, and it may be the equivalent of a new car or the latest clothing. A correlational study will determine whether or not there is a relationship, and if it has a high correlation, further studies will be warranted to further discover causation.