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Tuesday, 20 January 2009 19:47

British politely died on RMS Titanic

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A study by Australian economist David Savage found that British men onboard the sinking Titanic gave up their seats to women, children, and American men due to their polite background in proper etiquette. The not-quite-so-courteous American men often accepted the offer.


David Savage, a behavioral economist from Queensland University of Technology (Brisbane, Australia), stated, “We observe that social norms such as ‘women and children first’ are surviving in such external situations that create life and death situations.” [Russia Today: “British gents politely died on Titanic”]

Savage and his team of Swiss and Australian researchers found that women had a 53% chance of surviving on the Titanic (which sank on April 14, 1912 after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage) due to the simple fact that they were female.

Consequently, more women than men survived and almost all children onboard the RMS Titanic survived the disaster at sea. In all, over 1,500 lives were lost that day.

In fact, Savage stated, "It seems that on the Titanic the social norm of 'women and children first' was followed, as proportionally more women than men and almost all the children on board survived.” [Stuff.co.nz: “Polite Poms 'had no chance on Titanic'”]

The Russia Today article stated, “The study also suggests British passengers were politely queuing to get their place on a lifeboat, and on many occasions allowed others to take their place. Americans, who were not used to this etiquette, had no problem seizing their chance of survival, the data indicates.”

The Savage team found that Americans were not polite in their actions that day.

What did many of the American and British men do when a seat opened up on a lifeboat? Page two explains.




The American pushed themselves to the front of line as people stood to get a lifeboat to safety.

On the other hand, British men were polite and gave up their seats to the aggressive American men.

Besides the events that occurred on the Titanic with respect to etiquette and survival, Savage is also analyzing data from the sinking of three other ships: the Lusitania in 1915, the Andera Doria in 1956, and Estonia in 1994.

More information on the Titanic is found at The Titanic Historical Society and The Smithsonian Institution.

The Smithsonian stated, "On 10 April 1912, the Titanic commenced her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York, with 2,227 passengers and crew aboard. At 11:40 p.m. on the night of 14 April, traveling at a speed of 20.5 knots, she struck an iceberg on her starboard bow."

Further, "At 2:20 a.m. she sank, approximately 13.5 miles east-southeast of the position from which her distress call was transmitted. Lost at sea were 1,522 people, including passengers and crew. The 705 survivors, afloat in the ship's twenty lifeboats, were rescued within hours by the Cunard Liner, Carpathia."

After the disaster of the British ship Titanic occurred, a recording was created in London, England called "Stand To Your Post (Be British)."

It follows:

When the mighty ship Titanic parted from Southampton bay
There were tears and fond goodbyes too as she proudly steamed away
But soon alas disaster came and filled all hearts with woe
Although in sorrow now we weep, we yet are proud to know.

Every man at his post as the big ship went down,
To save precious lives 'ere we find them
They died like heroes true
Now something we must do
For the wives and little ones they left behind them

In the darkness of the night there came a crash, a crash of doom
And the gallant crew soon realized the sea must be their tomb
The order came to lower the boats and one thing had to be
The women and the children first, for that's the way at sea.



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