Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Schraufnagel, Scot

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Incivility in Congress has often been attributed to partisan and ideological conflict, but there is a growing body of evidence that suggests incivility may hinge on factors concerning members’ personal attitudes as defined by their life experiences. To investigate this, background and experiential factors that may lead to incivility are tested, including variables such as family dynamics, religion, occupation, and education. All of these factors are tested on the basis that they could have formative influence on a legislator’s behavior and how they conduct themselves as a member of the US Congress. Seven members of Congress from the 45th to the 113th (1877-2015) who were randomly chosen from among the 20 members of Congress who were most-implicated in acts of incivility, in newspaper reports, make up my sample for evaluation. Findings strongly suggest that incivility is more than partisanship, and that non-political factors may lead to uncivil behavior among members of Congress. The research findings point to broad implications for the recruitment of members of Congress. Furthermore, there are distinct differences between members of Congress that may be called “partisans” and those I refer to as “radicals,” the former adhering strongly to party cleavages and the latter motivated by other considerations.


80 pages




Northern Illinois University

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