The University of Arizona

Research Reports

What is Political Incivility?
This study used 23 separate indicators to examine: 1) how much consensus there is concerning perceptions of the incivility or civility of various general categories of speech or behavior; 2) whether there are distinct groups of people who vary in ther tolerance for political incivility; and 3) whether political incivility is a unidimensional or multi-dimensional latent construct. Based on the large consensus within our random sample of more than 1,000 undergraduates at a large southwestern university, we argue that it is possible to move toward standardized measures of political incivility.... Read More
Online and Uncivil? Patterns and Determinants of Incivility in Newspaper Website Comments
Incivility in public discussions has received increasing attention from academic and popular commentators in recent years. In an effort to better understand the nature and determinants of such incivility, this study examined a 3-week census of articles and comments posted to a local newspaper's website - totaling more than 300 articles and 6,400 comments. The results of the content analysis show that incivility occurs frequently and is associated with key contextual factors, such as the topic of the article and the sources quoted within the article. We also find that, contrary to popular... Read More
Patterns and Determinants of Civility in Online Discussions
Final Report to the National Institute for Civil Discourse   Kate Kenski, Kevin Coe, and Steve Rains University of Arizona October 13, 2012     Overview   Civility is a principle intimately tied to the American experiment—an ideal that speaks to the “the fundamental tone and practice of democracy” (Herbst, 2010, p. 3). Indeed, a commitment to civil discourse—the free and respectful exchange of different ideas—has been viewed as central to the effective practice of democracy from the ancient Athenian forums to the founding of America to our nation’s most recent debates about various political... Read More