The way to be cool has changed over time

The concept of being cool has changed over time, new research has suggested. Published in the Journal of Individual Differences, the study found the characteristics that epitomised being hip in the day of James Dean and Miles Davis are no longer applicable for today's youths.

Ilan Dar-Nimrod of the University of Rochester Medical Center, discovered the previous notion of coolness - epitomised by counterculture, individualism and toughness - has been done away with and replaced with a more likeable persona.

The study suggested young mainstream individuals nowadays view people who are pleasant and approachable as being cool.

Mr Dar-Nimrod said of today's perception of what is hip and trendy: "The main thing is: Do I like this person? Is this person nice to people, attractive, confident and successful?"

He admitted to being highly surprised that the notion has changed so dramatically since its historical origins, when it centred on emotional control and thrill-seeking.

Society member Simon Moore comments: "Mr Dar-Nimrod's results are hardly suprising if we place them in the wider social context. Facebook, twitter. LinkedIn and Youtube are all social communication tools centred around popularity and acceptance.

"How many friends you have on Facebook for example is 'ego currency' to many, something we can fluff our feathers up at and supposedly feel good about. So in this context being popular (even virtually) has an important role to play for many young people - both from a social acceptance perspective and as a confirmatory stamp of personality approval."