Imagine a world totally devoid of “Hello”, “Please”, “Thank you”, “Excuse me”… It would be the law of the jungle! By pacifying human relationships, politeness constitutes a first bulwark against conflicts, aggressions, barbarism. A virtue essential to the balance of society. But also useful for our health. Because by securing our relationships with others, courtesy promotes positive emotions (well-being, serenitygratitude), which supports the proper functioning of our immune system.
Politeness constitutes a set of rituals, the main function of which is to signal to others the respect shown to them. “Saying hello to your next door neighbor is not necessarily a sign that you are happy to see him, but that you “distinguish” him, underlines the psychosociologist Dominique Picard (1). It is a way of telling him: you have value because I notice you.” In return, the expressions of politeness that we receive give us, too, the feeling of being identified as an individual, of having a place in society. A crucial recognition for our mental well-being. Because, as the psychosiologist reminds us: “We all need the gaze of others to feel we exist.”
In 1992, American psychologist Thomas Holtgraves (Ball State University, Indiana) showed that politeness had a positive impact on memory and attention skills. He did (…)