Phone etiquette – What Americans deem acceptable behavior on calls
April 12th, 2024, Kineree Shah

Phone etiquette – What Americans deem acceptable behavior on calls

In a recent survey of 1,216 adults, we asked Americans what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to do during voice phone calls. Eight in 10 Americans think it's not okay to chew (81%) or speak loudly (79%) on calls while seven in 10 find the use of speakerphone when others are around (72%) or shifting attention away from the call without telling the person on the other end (70%) unacceptable.

However, opinions on what's acceptable and what is not can change depending on how old someone is. For example, younger adults, those between 18 and 34 years old, are more okay with making calls late at night, with 45% saying it's acceptable, compared to only 9% of adults 55 and older. Similarly, half of the younger group (51%) thinks it's fine to call early in the morning, while only one in five older adults agree. This pattern continues across other behaviors, like using speakerphone around others or not using greetings when answering or ending calls. Younger people tend to be more lenient about these things than older adults.

When it comes to what's not acceptable, older adults are generally stricter. For instance, nine in 10 of those 55 and older think eating or chewing loudly on calls is not okay, compared to seven in 10 of the youngest adults (68%). Likewise, a significant majority of older adults disapprove of using speakerphone in shared environments (81%) and speaking loudly in public places (89%), more so than younger adults.

Men are more likely to find certain behaviors acceptable compared to women. For example, 28% of men think it's okay to call late at night, while only 21% of women agree.

Men are also more okay with calling early in the morning, with 38% finding it acceptable compared to 31% of women. On the flip side, 86% of women find eating or chewing loudly on calls unacceptable, compared to 75% of men. Similarly, 84% of women disapprove of speaking loudly in public places, as opposed to 74% of men.

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YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on 5-8 April 2024, with a nationally  representative sample of 1,216 adults (aged 18+ years) in the US, using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, race, gender, education, and region to be representative of all adults in the US (18 years or older), and reflect the latest population estimates from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.