When raising our children we teach then to say ‘thank you’ when someone offers them a helping hand. It’s called being polite and that’s a trade we’d like to see in others who cross our paths on a daily basis. But according to recent research, not many people practice what they preach anymore and it showed that they only thanked another person once in every twenty situations.
During a recent study, where 1,057 conversations were recorded, it became clear that amongst close-knit groups (such as family and friends) people take each other’s help for granted. In other more formal settings, such as encounters in stores, scientist found out that people expressed their gratitude a lot more often.
“In informal everyday interaction across the world, the general norm is to respond to another’s cooperative behaviour without explicitly saying thank you, but by simply continuing with one’s activities,” the researchers said in Royal Society Open Science.
The research was held on different locations around the world and in eight different languages. Yet, the conversations that were held in English were by far the most polite and people said ‘thank you’ more often than in any other language. But still the overall percentage of English ‘thank yous’ was only 14.5% of the total that was recorded. Which brought the researchers to the conclusion that it has a lot to do with linguistic traditions.
“This doesn’t mean that people are universally rude, nor that speakers of English are less rude than speakers of other languages. We should not conflate the feeling of gratitude with the act of expressing it,” Nick Enfield, one of the lead researcher on the study, said.
But that still leaves us with the question why few of us bother to say thanks when another person helps us out. The researchers think it simply could be because we save those few ‘thank yous’ for the ones who actually go out their ways to accommodate our needs.