Talking the Talk

March 30, 2015, 5:39 PM GMT+0

People in the Northeast think profanity is useful, and people in the Midwest like it when strangers strike up conversations

YouGov recently asked Americans about which conversational behaviors they like and which they dislike. Some findings were less surprising than others, for example the vast majority of Americans try to limit the volume of their conversations when they're out and about. Others played into existing stereotypes we have about certain groups. Southerners are polite; younger Americans are self-centered; and Northeasterners are cold.

When Americans were asked about how they felt about profanity people in the Northeast were the most likely to say that profanity 'can be descriptive and add something to a conversation'. 52% of Northeasterners opted to say that there is a place for profanity, compared to 48% who think it's offensive and unnecessary. People in the West were split 50%-50%, while large numbers of Midwesterners (59%) and Southerners (63%) reject profanity.

Profanity isn't the only other issue to reveal certain regional differences. On the whole most Americans (62%) say that they generally like it when a stranger starts a conversation with them. Nevertheless, people in the Northeast (47%) are much more likely than people in the West or Midwest (34%) to say that they don't like strangers talking to them. Interestingly, despite the reputation for friendliness and hospitality, people in the South (39%) are the second most likely to say that they don't appreciate strangers striking up conversation.

When it comes to sharing information about yourself with new people, younger Americans are much more likely to think it's acceptable to share a lot about yourself with someone you haven't known for long. 45% of under-45s say this is OK, compared to only 25% of over-65s and 31% of people aged 45 to 64.

Other questions were less controversial, or at least less polarizing among demographic groups. The statement that Americans are most likely to agree on is that 'louder people tend to be annoying', with 82% saying that compared to only 18% who think that 'louder people tend to be fun'. Hispanic Americans (31%) and under-30s (26%) were the most likely to describe lounder people as fun.

Full poll results can be found here and topline results and margin of error here.