Fake Trend: People Are Ruder These DaysS

Doesn't it seem like people are rude these days? It's totally not your imagination. Nor is it a simple garden-variety example of the human tendency to fallaciously generalize our own mundane experiences out onto the world at large. Not at all. It's a completely true trend, according to an official-sounding survey thing!

According to America's foremost scientific journal, USA Today, "incivility" in the workplace is "a growing problem" that is "on the rise." Not just something that has been around forever and ever, amen. No sir. The paper cites a study presented at a recent American Psychological Association meeting. Let's see that evidence!

  • "Research suggests 75% to 80% of people have experienced incivility."
  • "In a study she co-wrote, 86% of 289 workers at three Midwestern firms reported incivility at work. "
  • Says one psychologist, "When you control for inflation, people are getting paid less than in the late '60s. A lot of people are working much harder. They've got fluid job descriptions and less role clarity. So for some people, for a growing fringe, work is becoming more toxic."
  • "The Civility in America 2011 poll of 1,000 adults found 43% of Americans say they've experienced incivility at work, and 38% believe the workplace is increasingly disrespectful."

So, the hard evidence that incivility in the workplace is increasing amounts to a minority of survey respondents who "believe" that it is increasing. And the rest is just vague psychology-lite after-the-fact justification! The real reason that American workplaces are growing ruder is that a trend is not a trend unless it is a "growing problem" that is "on the rise." Otherwise it's just life. Boring! But still.... I feel like I've heard this one before.

[USA Today, photo via Shutterstock]