Capturing "cool": Measures for assessing coolness of technological products

S. Shyam Sundar, Daniel J. Tamul, Mu Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


These days, when we float an idea for an interface or demo a prototype, the compliment that we crave for is "This is Cool!" Coolness has become a major design goal for HCI professionals. If we are serious about building Cool into our products, we should also be serious about measuring it. With this in mind, we performed a scientific explication of the concept in order to capture the psychological essence of "coolness," covering a number of characteristics such as trendiness, uniqueness, rebelliousness, genuineness and utility. Based on the discourse in the literature, we arrived at a series of questionnaire measures, which we subjected to an exploratory factor analysis in Study 1 (N=315). The factor structure that emerged was tested through a confirmatory factor analysis in Study 2 (N=835), in which American and Korean respondents rated their perceptions of a variety of old and new technologies. Converging evidence suggests that in order for an interface to be rated as cool, it should not only be attractive and original, but also help the user assert his/her uniqueness or subcultural identity. Study 3 (N=317) tested the content validity of our factors by comparing them with a holistic evaluation of coolness and arrived at a parsimonious three-factor solution for conceptualizing it in terms of originality, attractiveness and subcultural appeal. Together, these constitute tangible user criteria that designers can strategically address and researchers can systematically measure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-180
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education
  • General Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


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