Where are the politest states in America?

Photo of pinned Helena on a map of USA. May be used as illustration for traveling theme.
Stock photo. Photo credit Getty Images
By , Audacy

According to multiple reports, people have been experiencing more incidents of rudeness in recent years, and that increased time spent on the internet may exacerbate rudeness. However, one recent study shows that people from some states may be maintaining politeness online.

In an effort to determine where the politest search engine users are in the U.S., WordFinder analyzed how often 16 “polite” search terms were used by state per 100,000 residents.

These terms were:

·       Beg your pardon

·       Excuse me

·       Please

·       Thanks

·       Cheers

·       Friendly

·       Pretty please

·       Thanks so much

·       Civil

·       Gracious

·       Sir

·       Thoughtful

·       Cordial

·       Pardon me

·       Sociable

·       Well-behaved

Overall, the analysis found that web searchers from Montana used these terms more than searchers from any other state at 273,447 per 100,000 residents and that California searchers used the fewest at 10 per 100,000 people.

These were the 10 states that used the “polite” terms most often:

1.       Montana – 273,447 per 100,000

2.       Vermont – 64,410 per 100,000

3.       Alabama – 64,047 per 100,000

4.       Minnesota – 48,664 per 100,000

5.       Delaware – 45,063 per 100,000

6.       Wyoming – 43,761 per 100,000

7.       Arkansas – 30,050 per 100,000

8.       Utah – 25,993 per 100,000

9.       Hawaii – 25,279 per 100,000

10.   Idaho – 24,962 per 100,000

In addition to California, Kansas and Illinois ranked low on the list. WordFinder found that the states where its list of “polite” terms were searched the least were:

1.       California – 10 per 100,000

2.       Kansas – 38 per 100,000

3.       Illinois – 42 per 100,000

4.       Louisiana – 126 per 100,000

5.       Michigan – 127 per 100,000

6.       Pennsylvania – 128 per 100,000

7.       Oregon – 249 per 100,000

8.       Massachusetts – 331 per 100,000

9.       Florida – 554 per 100,000

10.   West Virginia – 596 per 100,000

Of course, internet searches are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to politeness.

According to a 2018 article in Psychology Today, “many experts contend that social media has contributed to an attitude of rudeness,” and it cited 2014 research that found that “cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.”

Cyberbullying is not uncommon. In fact, the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that an estimated 15.7% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Reports of rude behavior aren’t limited to the internet, either. In October 2021, TIME reported that “Americans appear[ed] to have forgotten their niceties,” while coming out of the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. It said that lawyers, restaurants and airlines were reporting ruder clients. Federal Aviation Administration data backs up the last example with huge increase in unruly passenger incidents reported in 2021, with a high number of incidents reported in 2022 as well.

This past May, Slate reporter Alison Green wrote that her “inbox has filled up with workers reporting that while rudeness from the public has been on the rise for years, the pandemic accelerated it, and in the past two years, they’ve faced worse behavior than ever from customers (and in some cases their own colleagues).”

A few months later, Fortune reported that customers were being meaner to people serving them.

Interestingly, many of the same states that landed on WordFinder’s police search list were also ranked as polite, according to a 2021 YouGov poll regarding people’s opinion of their own state’s politeness. Hawaii, Vermont, Montana, Minnesota, Wyoming and Idaho were in the top 10 on both lists. Massachusetts, Florida, California and Pennsylvania also ranked in the bottom 10 of both lists.

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