A problem that is all too common, I’ve noticed, is that not enough people use their manners. Being raised a benevolent Midwesterner, I take notice when people aren’t polite, especially by forgetting to simply thank someone for a small favor. I came up with the idea of testing people’s manners firsthand to see if I was crazy, or if people actually forget “please” and “thank you” more than you’d think. In order to test how polite people are firsthand, I came up with the question of “What percentage of people are willing to thank me for holding the door for them?” It’s a simple favor and an even easier “thank you.”
My hypothesis was hopeful: More than half the people I hold the door for will thank me. Alternatively: Less than half the people I hold the door for will thank me. My sample had to be big enough to get a good feel for my conclusion. I also decided to divide my sample size evenly between men and women: I would sample 20 of each. I simply decided to take results down in my phone, since it’s the one object I always carry with me. I made a note for both men and women and divided those notes up into those who thanked me and those who did not. This was a non-experiment since I did not manipulate my subjects or my environment.
I found that 12 of 20 men thanked me and 14 of 20 women thanked me for holding the door for them. While the discrepancy between men and women wasn’t large, there still was one, which I thought was interesting, though it doesn’t mean that women are more polite than men. I expected just over half of each gender, such as 11 or 12 to thank me, and it was higher in the women’s case.
Mind your Manners
My research question was simple: What percentage of people are willing to thank me for holding the door for them? The problem that this question addressed was meant to solve a personal curiosity, because I had taken notice that not a ton of people use their manners these days. The cause-effect relationship being studied is the relationship between me holding a door for someone and them being compelled to thank me, the effect. The main construct involved is the social construct of manners. Most of us are taught to simply thank someone to show appreciation for them going out of their way to help you. It’s not that it’s difficult to open a door on your own, it’s the thought that counts in this case, for the most part. Most of us feel obligated to use those manners that we were taught when someone does something kind for us. My hypothesis is this: More than half of the people I hold the door for will thank me. Alternative Hypothesis: less than half of the people I hold the door for will thank me.
I had no particular population of interest in mind when conducting this experiment. I actually wanted my population to be random to ensure a diverse sample group and a lack of bias. However, I made an effort to sample an equal amount of men and women, so I conducted my research on 20 men and 20 women. I feel that my results are externally valid in that they could be generalized to other persons, places, and times. These results could be applied to other populations because the general population is mostly similar to the population I sampled, with the exception of age.
I addressed construct validity by conducting an experiment that I found to be meaningful and having to do with what I was aiming to measure. I feel that it was contractually valid because I think that I effectively performed the research in a way that could confirm or deny my hypothesis. I made an attempt to make data collecting easy to ensure reliability. In the end, my hypothesis was confirmed and I found that, interestingly enough, women were more likely to thank me than men by 10%. I ensured reliability by using a random testing method and by conducting the experiment at different times of the day, throughout all weekdays. Moods can be different depending on the time of day and the day itself, and I believe that your mood is a large determining factor of politeness. In collecting data at different times over the course of about a week and a half, I believe that I ensured reliability among my random population.
The type of design used in this research was non-experimental. I did not manipulate the environment or population. The relationship was internal because the input, me holding a door, was cause for the effect, which was that person thanking me (or not.) A major threat that I could have encountered would be bias. If I knew the person I was performing an act of kindness for, they would probably feel more obligated to thank me in an effort to improve my image of them. Another possible threat to validity would be if I treated someone rudely when in the middle of holding the door for them. This could be anything from a nasty look to a rude comment. In other words, If I were to give someone a reason to be rude to me, that would be a threat to the validity of the socialNexperiment. I feel that I kept internal validity since I treated every person involved in the experiment the same.
My plan of the research was to collect data over the course of at least a week when going to and from classes until I reached my desired goal of 20 men and 20 women. If I was unable to complete it in a week, the plan was to spend time walking around a crowded building and entering and exiting at different doors over and over until I hit my quota. I was able to tally up enough people when simply walking into and out of classes over the course of about a week and a half. I took tallies on my phone, creating a separate page for men and women and then dividing those pages into two sections: those who said “thank you” and those that did not. I would normally collect around 4 tallies going into and out of every class I went to, so I wasn’t required to go out of my way and rely on my plan B to meet my tally goals. It was not relevant to notify or protect participant’s confidentiality since they never gave me any information or were even aware that I was paying attention to their responses (or lack thereof) to me. The independent variable in this experiment was me always holding a door for a nonbiased participant and not speaking to the participants, which might have given them a reason to thank me or not, depending on what it was I said. Keeping the procedure the same helped ensure that I could compare answers from different participants without fear of the interference of other stimuli, or dependent variables.
Upon conducting the research experiment, I found that 12 of 20 men (60%) and 14 of 20 women (70%) thanked me for holding the door for them. My hypothesis that over half of my testN subjects would thank me was confirmed. I expected a higher percentage of polite women before conducting this social research. This wasn’t part of my hypothesis, but I had noticed before this experiment that women typically tended to use better manners towards me when I was holding doors for them. This unofficial hypothesis was also confirmed, as women were 10% more likely to thank me for holding their door. There were a few instances when I counted a friendly head nod as a thank you- not all these people actually said “thanks” or “thank you.” However, the message that they were trying to send was still received.
One conclusion reached was that my hypothesis was confirmed. Regardless of gender, over 50% of the population tested expressed their thanks to me. Another conclusion reached was that women were more likely to thank me for holding the door for them than men were. Women were exactly 10% more likely to, in fact. I realized that more people use their manners than I had initially thought. I had the idea to conduct this research as a result of taking notice in a lack of manners being used in public. Maybe I only imagined that because it’s much more noticeable and memorable when someone doesn’t thank you for performing an act of kindness than when they do. Of course, the research proposed can’t be completely representative of everyone and how likely they are to use good manners in that same situation. The test group was somewhat homogenous, as my research took place across a college campus composed mostly of young adults. The homogenous nature of the group was probably the major weakness of the research proposed. However, I think the fact that I tested a random population helped make it less homogenous and helped eliminate bias in responses given. Possible future research based on the results of this work could include other research with the aim of measuring manners, such as sneezing in a room with a group of people and seeing how many people tell the sneezer “bless you.” Another possible research idea would be to conduct another door-holding experiment but to diversify your test population more than I was able to.