Bad manners, to some extent, may be a thing of youth. Overall, in terms of their own behavior, 41 percent of Americans admit to sometimes being so busy and pressed for time that they're not as polite as they'd like to be. Among those under age 35 it's 48 percent; that drops to 38 percent among their elders.
Despite their different sensibilities, men and women are about equally likely to say they're sometimes less polite than they'd like. And contrary to what you might expect, Americans who live in urban areas are no more likely than those in outside metropolitan centers to say they're sometimes too busy to act politely.
Just under two in 10 Americans say they curse regularly, but add in those who do swear, but "not so often," and it rises to 36 percent. Again, it spikes among young adults: Nearly three in 10 of those under 35 swear in public very or somewhat often, nearly triple the number of seniors who do so.
There's no clear, consistent link between the use of communication devices and rudeness. People who never use cell phones are less apt than users to say they're sometimes too busy to be as polite as they'd like; but impoliteness does not increase as frequency of cell phone use rises.
Also, cell phone users are no more likely than non-users to say they curse regularly. And people who use e-mail, iPods or MP3s, and/or text messaging are no more likely than those who don't use such tools to say they're sometimes too busy to be polite, or to say they use swear words.
All told, about half of Americans regularly use cell phones, as many regularly use e-mail and nearly three in 10 regularly use iPods or other personal music devices. Fewer, one in six, use text or instant messaging on a regular basis.
Age is a big factor: Cell phone usage is highest among those under 45, use of iPods and text messaging is significantly higher among those under 35 and e-mail usage drops precipitously among seniors.
Neither observed rudeness nor the bother it causes has changed much in the past four years, despite a continued spike in the number of Americans toting cells phones and other mobile communication gadgetry.
There are some slight shifts. Fifty-seven percent now report often witnessing others making loud or annoying cell phone calls in public areas; that's up eight points from a Public Agenda/Pew poll in 2002. The percentage bothered "a lot" by these calls inched up by a modest five points.
On the other hand, reports of rude language in public are down slightly, by five points, from 2002 -- and the number of people who are very bothered by that kind of language is down by eight points.
METHODOLOGY -- This ABC News poll was conducted by telephone Jan. 20-24, 2006, among a random national sample of 1,014 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by ICR-International Communications Research of Media, Pa.