According to a YouGov survey conducted in October 2022, young adults of student age (18-24 year olds) are more likely to have ‘bad manners’. The study asked 1697 people to rank how often they do certain things, such as “hold the door open for others” and “say please and thank you”. The findings show that in most cases, young adults were less likely to do these things habitually than other age groups.

More survey findings

Diving deeper into the data, it’s clear that most of the people surveyed still believe they have good manners. On the whole, 90% reported that people would describe them as having good manners. For each age group, this figure was 95% for seniors, 96% for 50-64 year olds, and 89% for 25-49 year olds. Although most young people felt they would be perceived as having good manners, this figure was significantly lower than others at 72%. Moreover, 13% of young people thought others would describe them as having bad manners, which was down to 6% for the 25-49 group and 1% for 50+.

One of the most surprising revelations about bad manners was that only half of young adults say please and thank you all the time. 54% reported they ‘always’ say them, suggesting half of young adults forget (or choose not to). Furthermore, 12% claim they would take the last biscuit without asking others. However, 60% claimed they would but only if others say they don’t want it first.

On the whole, it seems that young people do have good manners, but they are just more likely to have bad manners than other age groups. This is consistent across the different survey questions, where the number of young people using manners frequently is comparatively lower.

The number of young people using manners rarely is also comparatively higher.

Do young people really have bad manners?

It’s important to remember that these findings are based on one survey. Another study suggested that young people, or millennials, actually define etiquette very differently from older generations. Social media actually has a key role in defining this.

The 2019 survey found that over 40% of young adults would not give up their seat for the elderly or pregnant on a bus. However, over a third claimed it was impolite to ignore people through social media. They also felt it was impolite to post spoilers about shows or reading a person’s text message over their shoulder.

Reading text over shoulder is bad manners according to young people
Source: Canva

These findings may seem extreme. Do young people really have bad manners or are these based upon certain definitions of manners? However, it is interesting to consider how manners and etiquette among different age groups are viewed differently.

What are your thoughts? Let us know whether you think young people have bad manners or are we just polite in different ways?

If you’re struggling with how to be polite with people you don’t like, check out our page on “what to do if you don’t like your flat mates!”.