Rasmus Skytte

Why Politicians Seem So Rude and How It Affects Citizens

Mudslinging and personal attacks on political opponents seem to have become a constituent part of American politics, and in recent decades, a number of studies within political science and communication have investigated how uncivil behavior affects citizens. The perhaps most consistent finding in this literature is that citizens do not like rude behavior and that they evaluate rude politicians less favorably than they evaluate polite politicians. While these findings may seem obvious, they raise a paradox: If everyone hates incivility, why are politicians so rude? Are politicians really so out of touch with what voters want? Or might the assumptions underlying this paradox be wrong? In this dissertation, the latter possibility is explored. The dissertation consists of three individual articles that examine whether politicians are really as uncivil as they appear and whether citizens always punish them for being rude to their opponents.

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