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Incivilities and Dehumanization: The Role of the Physical Environment
Deviant Behavior  (IF1.982),  Pub Date : 2021-09-07, DOI: 10.1080/01639625.2021.1969219


The environment determines the way in which people interpret social life. In fact, depending on the context, multiple potential attitudes can be evoked by an attitude object. The purpose of this research is to test whether the perception of uncivil behavior and its perpetrators is affected by the physical environment in which this behavior is framed. Specifically, we explore the role of two environmental dimensions – naturalness and openness – in the way we evaluate behaviors that transgress social norms and their agents. In a pilot study, participants (N = 124) considered counter-normative behaviors to be more uncivil and their perpetrators to be less human in natural contexts. In the main study, participants (N = 199) evaluated the naturalness and openness dimensions separately and it was found that naturalness is the one that most influences the negative perception of uncivil behavior and the only one that has an effect on the dehumanization process. The results of this research support the idea that the physical environment plays an important role in the perception of uncivil behavior and the dehumanized view of its agent. The importance of the results within the fields of deviant behavior, social psychology, and environmental psychology are discussed.