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The Her Campus UVM Experiment: How Courteous Are You?

How courteous would you consider yourself? The Her Campus UVM team conducted an experiment to give us an idea of how attentive students are of each other on the busiest parts of the day.

The process was simple, drop a book with pieces of loose paper and see how many students decided to give a helping hand rather than just passing by. Afterward, members that participated were asked to write a journal of their experience (see below). Just by pretending to be clumsy, we found that only 18% of those passing by chose to help pick up the papers or books. Of the 82% that continued walking, about 6% considered helping out but decided not to in the long run.

Having a reputation for being ultra-friendly towards those in need around the world, have we forgotten simple manners of those who surround us everyday? The answer varies. Though next time someone in your community needs the slightest bit of help with something as small as picking up a piece of paper, don’t hesitate!

Here’s how you can up the gallantry in your everyday life:

  1. DO hold the door open for someone. This is common manners, but it makes a difference when a person is directly behind you and you hold the door as to when a person is a few more steps closer to approaching the door. Wait the extra 3 seconds it’ll take!

  2. DON’T rush in front of somebody. If two people are approaching a door, let the person closest go. There’s no point in cutting other people off when driving, let alone walking.

  3. DO reply back with “Your welcome” after. Sometimes not saying it may make a good deed seem obligatory and tedious to the other.

  4. DON’T be catty. If someone chooses to perform an action in one way rather than another, accept it! We all get things done effectively in our own way that makes us comfortable, so avoid being close-minded.

  5. DO cut down public profanity. There’s nothing worse than overhearing a person who has a sailor’s mouth throughout your lunch break.

  6. DON’T laugh when someone trips. Really…it’s never funny to the person tripping.

  7. DO stray away from religious remarks and assumptions. Not everyone has the same belief, so try not to assume they celebrate or practice in the same way.

  8. DO contain yourself when others are being rude. If a cashier is being sassy, maintain your manners and still say thank you with a smile. They’re probably just having a bad day, so no need to make it worse.

  9. DON’T be judgmental. Bob Marley said it best, “Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect and I don’t live to be. But, before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean.”

  10. DO branch out. I love seeing people of all sorts of groups coming together and socializing. Don’t be scared to talk to someone different, it only makes the experience more interesting!


Allie Goldberg: Today I went to the Davis Center at 1:00pm and dropped my books and papers in a crowd of students. Around fourteen people walked by, as this was occurring, and three stopped to help me pick them all up. Two other people hesitated to stop but saw that I was already getting help from others. Overall everyone was super friendly about it, which was really nice!

Jenna Quirk: After I grab my food from the Davis center I notice the line of people waiting for new world. I decided it was the perfect time to give people the opportunity to help me pick up the books I drop. Here I go. I have a notebook full of her campus flyers (hoping someone would notice and ask about it). I drop my folder after fumbling with my phone, and about 20 flyers scatter across the floor. Out of the entire line only two people helped me. One UVM guy and another older man. I honestly thought more people would help me out. I guess they were too hungry!

Emily Meltzer: I decided to do my book and paper drop on Wednesday on the steps of the library around 1:00. When I dropped my books the first time, only about three people looked and no one helped me out. The second time I dropped my books was during a rush in between classes. I would say about 5 people looked. One of my friends walking by helped me out and picked up a few papers that were about to blow away.

Marissa Villegas: I dropped my books by the stairwell in Davis center, right by the main entrance around 12:40 after a class. I dropped my italian textbook which had several worksheets inside that ended up scatter on the floor. My notebooks also flew open and sprawled on the steps. About 13 people walked past me, and only 2 people stopped to help where 1 other person considered helping but kept walking.

Coleen Rosen: In the library by the cyber cafe, I dropped my notebooks that had small scraps of paper in them. The paper went everywhere and even on top of one persons feet that was standing in line. That one person was the only one to help me while 4 other people in line didn’t do anything.

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