Positive and Negative Politeness in Nonverbal Communication Contexts: An Examination into Driving Behaviors in Europe

Mohammad Awad AlAfnan, Siti Fatimah MohdZuki


This study examines politeness as a nonverbal politic behavior in 29 European countries and territories using Brown and Levinson’s (1987) politeness theory. The examination looked into the nonverbal acts of ‘following road signs and speed limit’ and ‘giving signals before changing lanes’ as they reflect (1) negative politeness in the form of avoiding imposition and reducing face-threatening-acts and (2) positive politeness in the form of noticing and appreciating other drivers’ wants and interests to drive without imposition respectively. The examination looked into four variables that are the gender of drivers, age of drivers, level of education of drivers and their country of origin. The study found that European drivers are generally polite and they tend to use the positive politeness act (giving signals) of noticing and appreciating other drivers more often than the negative politeness act (following sigs and speed limits) of reducing imposition and avoiding face-threatening acts. The study also found that the level of education did not play a significant role in the adherence to the driving politic behavior. However, this study found a positive coloration between the age of drivers and their adherence to the driving politic behavior as older drivers follow the driving politic behavior more often than young drivers. This study also found that female drivers in Europe are more polite than male drivers as they notice and appreciate other drivers (positive politeness). This study also revealed that Danish (female), British (male and female), Irish (male), Finish (male), Dutch (male and female), Belgium (female), Austrian (female), Greek (female) and Spanish (male)  drivers have the highest frequency of adherence to the driving politic behavior. The study also found that Portuguese male and female, Croatian male and female, Macedonian male and female, Scottish male and female, Albanian male, Norwegian male, Czech male, Austrian female, Romanian male and Swedish female drivers have the lowest frequency of adherence to the driving politic behavior in Europe. The study also found that Cypriot (male), Catalonian (female), French (male and female), German (male and female), Hungarian (male and female), Italian (male and female), Polish (male and female), Russian (male and female), Serbian (male and female), Slovakian (male and female), and Turkish (male and female) drivers’ adherence to driving politic behavior is relatively moderate to high.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/smc.v11i1.5884


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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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