What is Political Incivility?


Using 23 novel indicators and a 1,000+ sample representative of a full undergraduate population we examined: how much consensus there was about perceptions of the incivility/civility of various categories of speech/behavior; and whether political incivility is a unidimensional or multidimensional latent construct. Confirmatory factor analyses suggest perceived political incivility is a multidimensional construct. Insulting utterances, deception, and behaviors tending to shut down inclusive ongoing discussion can be treated as distinct, underlying aspects of incivility. More than 75% of respondents viewed all 23 indicators, except issue oriented attacks, as very, mostly, or somewhat uncivil. If replicated on a representative national sample, standardized indicators of political incivility should be constructed and routinely employed in national surveys of political attitudes and behavior.

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