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More reasons to be nice: It's less work for everyone
Date:3/9/2011

low the sum of their individual door-opening efforts," the authors write.

A more common explanation of why we extend a physical gesture of courtesy is what the researchers term the "critical distance" model: we do something for someone if she is simply near enough. But the researchers found that model insufficient. "We need a way of describing why there is a change of probability" both of doing the task and of expending more time at it, said Rosenbaum. Is the critical distance 10 feet? Why not 50 feet? What is "near enough?" And why wait longer if more people are following? "You still come back to the question of what the individuals are trying to achieve."

Rosenbaum sees the shared-effort model as enhancing, not detracting from, our appreciation of good manners: "Here are people who will probably never see each other again," he says, "but in this fleeting interaction, they reduce each others' effort. This small gesture is uplifting for society."


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Contact: Tiffany Harrington
tharrington@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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