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Incivility is a phenomenon occurring with increasing frequency in Western culture. Few, if any, people, situations, or relationships are immune from its presence. A number of factors thought to be related to the rise in incivility in the last few decades have been proposed in this article. Broadly speaking, these include cultural factors, personal variables, and situational influences. Understanding factors related to the rise in incivility is important in a practical sense because of the adverse intra-personal and inter-personal consequences that follow from uncivil actions. If we understand what causes incivility, then we can make efforts to behave in a more polite, courteous manner in our interactions with others. In addition, from an empirical perspective, an understanding of what causes incivility may provide insight not only into the darker side of human nature, but may also shed light on human virtues to which incivility is juxtaposed. 


Incivility - Impropriety - Manners - Aversive Behaviors 


Robin M. KOWALSKI completed her Social Psychology Doctorate in 1990 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is currently a professor of  Psychology at the Western Carolina University. Her research interests include health and personality psychology, self-presentation and social anxiety, aversive interpersonal behaviors, interpersonal influence, and sexual aggression. Her publications include notably Patriotism in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm:Basking in reflected glory? (1991), Social anxiety (1995, with M. R. Leary), Aversive interpersonal behaviors (1997), Behaving badly:Aversive behaviors in interpersonal relationships (2001), and Permitted Disrespect:Teasing in Interpersonal Interactions (2001), with E. Howerton & M. McKenzie.


This contribution is a chapter of the book edited by Patrick HUNOUT, The Erosion of the Social Link in the Economically Advanced Countries.

The author would like to thank Mark R. LEARY and Thomas W. BRITT for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this chapter.


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