PsychNology Journal, Volume 10, Number 2, 93 – 102

Understanding Cool: An Analytic Exploration of Contributing Factors for Teens

D. Scott McCrickard, Jeremy Barksdale 
Department of Computer Science Virginia Tech, USA

Felicia Doswell
Department of Computer Science Norfolk State University, USA


This paper explores the way that young people view the notion of cool, and how designers can leverage that notion in their design activities. To complement the many user studies about cool, this paper presents an analytic evaluation of categories of cool, leveraging information from multiple expert review sessions with a total of 38 participants. All of the participants, who were in their late teens or twenties, were asked to reflect on aspects of cool for young teens and tweens. The participants took part in our analysis because of their knowledge of technology and their understanding of people in our target teen demographic. Results of a Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) of data from the sessions suggest that innovation is a driving factor attributed to coolness for our target population, older males view monetary wealth and authenticity as important for coolness among our target population, and younger males view rebellious and anti-social technology as not cool for our target population. These findings suggest the need for different user models focused on demographics to capture the aspects of cool that are important in technology design.

KEYWORDS: critical parameters, analytic evaluation, expert review, qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), cool

McCrickard D. S., BarksdaleJ., Doswell F. (2012). Understanding Cool: An Analytic Exploration of Contributing Factors for Teens. PsychNology Journal, 10(2), 93 - 102. Retrieved [month] [day], [year], from

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PsychNology Journal Volume 10, Number 2