Have you ever wondered why people hold the door for one another?
Holding the door for someone is not only about manners. It's about taking
the time out of your day to have face to face interactions. The exchange is often
between strangers who may or may not ever see each other again. It takes a few
seconds to hold the door; some are heavy and require effort. But it's not just
about the door. Holding the door open is a polite and thoughtful act you can
easily do for your family, friends and even strangers, every day. Whether you’re
at school, the grocery story, at work, or at home, those around you will certainly
appreciate your good manners. Some people hurry through the door. Others
hold the door for the people behind them. What makes people decide to hold the
doors' for the people behind them?
There are lots of possibilities, of course. It could be a personality
trait. For instance, people who are conscientious might be more prone to hold
the door for the people behind them. Another possibility is that there is a social
component. Perhaps men are socialized to hold the door for women or young
ladies, whereas young people hold doors for older people. Maybe men hold
doors open for women hoping to seem more attractive to them. It is also possible
that it is just a habit. It is said that if there is someone behind you at a particular
distance (say 5 feet or so), then you hold the door. But it's not just about the
door. It's about making a split second decision whether to connect with that other
person and acknowledge their existence.
I was interested if there was a gender difference in the behavior of door
holding. I define door holding behavior as opening the door and holding it for the
person behind you. A couple of weeks ago back in late October, I went to the
library downtown two days in a row to study and observe. I sat by...