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The Neuroscience of “Cool”

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In the early 2000s, a major shift happened in the way people dress. Flared and baggy jeans began to give way to a skinny, low-slung version, and by the end of the decade, it seemed everyone—including menwere squeezing into jeans so tight that doctors began issuing health warnings. Now skinny is the status quo, and fashion’s early adopters are searching for a new look.

These sorts of back-and-forth trends may seem frustratingly arbitrary, but there’s a tremendous force involved in the shrinking and growing of jeans. It’s called “cool.” It’s an incredibly powerful marketing tool—one that has driven the astronomical profits of companies from Nike to Apple to Kanye West’s Yeezy—and nowhere is its influence as obvious as in our clothes. Cool doesn’t just explain why people will pay $1,000 for the right sweatshirt. It’s also arguably a factor in why the right logo makes us view some people as more suitable for a job, or worthy of receiving money for charity.

Read more at Quartz.

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