Patterns in the answers enabled the researchers to better define the word. For example, participants in one of the three studies used 154 adjectives to rate various personality traits they regarded as cool. Those words were grouped in 11 categories (the words social and popular became friendly, and fun, partyer became hedonist.)
Friendly, personal competence and trendy far outranked all the other categories, with emotionally controlled and hedonist at the bottom.
Among these participants, Bieber outranks James Dean's "Rebel Without a Cause" by a huge margin.
"Adjectives that reflected positive undefined elements were common, but adjectives that reflect the kind of coolness described in previous scholarly work such as rebelliousness, roughness and muted emotions were not," the study concludes.
Even Dar-Nimrod said he would have been shocked at that finding when he was a kid.
"I got my first sunglasses when I was about 13," he said. "There wasn't a cooler kid on the block for the next few days. I was looking cool because I was distant from people. My emotions were not something they could read. I put a filter between me and everyone else. That, in my mind, made me cool."
Today, he added, "being nice is considered cool."
His research in this area is just beginning, he said, and that's fortunate because work in this field is limited. Most of the participants were young, white and female. A more diverse group might produce a different definition.
And it leaves that momentous question unanswered:
Who's the coolest dude running for President?