In any case researchers have identified several

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case, researchers have identified several aspects of language use online that are typically viewed asnegative: name-calling, character assassination, and the use of obscene language (Sobieraj & Berry,2011). So what contributes to such uncivil behavior—online and offline? The following are somecommon individual and situational influences that may lead to breaches of civility (Miller, 2001):
Individual differences. Some people differ in their interpretations of civility in various settings, andsome people have personality traits that may lead to actions deemed uncivil on a more regular basis.Ignorance. In some cases, especially in novel situations involving uncertainty, people may not knowwhat social norms and expectations are.Lack of skill. Even when we know how to behave, we may not be able to do it. Such frustrations maylead a person to revert to undesirable behavior such as engaging in personal attacks during a conflictbecause they don’t know what else to do.Lapse of control. Self-control is not an unlimited resource. Even when people know how to behave andhave the skill to respond to a situation appropriately, they may not do so. Even people who are careful tomonitor their behavior have occasional slipups.Negative intent. Some people, in an attempt to break with conformity or challenge societal norms, orfor self-benefit (publicly embarrassing someone in order to look cool or edgy), are openly uncivil. Suchbehavior can also result from mental or psychological stresses or illnesses.Polarizing LanguagePhilosophers of language have long noted our tendency to verbally represent the world in very narrowways when we feel threatened (Hayakawa & Hayakawa, 1990). This misrepresents reality and closes offdialogue. Although in our everyday talk we describe things in nuanced and measured ways, quarrels andcontroversies often narrow our vision, which is reflected in our vocabulary. In order to maintain a civildiscourse in which people interact ethically and competently, it has been suggested that we keep anopen mind and an open vocabulary.One feature of communicative incivility is polarizing language, which refers to language that presentspeople, ideas, or situations as polar opposites. Such language exaggerates differences andovergeneralizes. Things aren’t simply black or white, right or wrong, or good or bad. Being able to onlysee two values and clearly accepting one and rejecting another doesn’t indicate sophisticated or criticalthinking. We don’t have to accept every viewpoint as right and valid, and we can still hold strongly to ourown beliefs and defend them without ignoring other possibilities or rejecting or alienating others. Acitizen who says, “All cops are corrupt,” is just as wrong as the cop who says, “All drug users are scum.” Inavoiding polarizing language we keep a more open mind, which may lead us to learn something new. Acitizen may have a personal story about a negative encounter with a police officer that could enlighten uson his or her perspective, but the statement also falsely overgeneralizes that experience. Avoiding

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