New research has suggested that a lot of the poor souls who drowned in the infamous 1912 Titanic sinking died because of good manners, while many Americans survived because they were pushy.
A study conducted by Swiss and Australian researchers showed that Britons were more likely to have died than any other nationality in the tragedy because they patiently stood in long queues while waiting to board lifeboats. They were too polite to rush and board the limited lifeboats.
Prof. Bruno Frey, who conducted the study from the University of Zurich, said there were several factors in the findings, but a big one was that Britons' civilized behavior was their downfall.
"They [Brits] followed the moral norm that women and children are to be saved first," Frey told ABC News. "They did so despite the fact that they were in a situation of life or death."
"They [Brits] would have been more likely to stand in a queue and wait their turn for boarding the lifeboats than Americans," he said. The study also made reference to the famed British "stiff upper lip."
Frey's conclusions are backed up to a degree with eyewitness accounts from that night. The captain, Edward John Smith, reportedly shouted out: "Be British, boys, be British!" as the Titanic went down, according to witnesses.
One wealthy passenger, Benjamin Guggenheim, accepting he was doomed and, acknowledging his tuxedo, was heard to remark "We've dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen."
Also, the orchestra that carried on playing as the ship sank was a band that consisted of a majority of British citizens. The latter two incidents were recreated in scenes in the smash hit Hollywood film "Titanic."
Frey went on to tell ABC News that he came to the conclusions after studying the people who were saved, including looking at their ages, genders, whether they traveled first, second or third class, their nationalities, and whether they traveled alone or with friends or family.
"The goal of our research is to find out how people behave under extreme duress, especially in situations of life or death," Frey said. "Do they become more selfish, or do they still follow moral norms. In the case of the Titanic it was the latter."
Frey added that Americans at the time were "less aware of social norms" and would have pushed and rushed to survive. Whereas the Brits were very aware and felt they had a duty to live up to their gentlemanly conduct, so would not have forced their way onto the lifeboats. Fey also believes some Brits may have even given up their seats to Americans.
The study showed that while the British made up 53 percent of those on board, significantly fewer of them were among the 706 survivors. About 25 percent of U.S. passengers were saved, despite being a fifth of the total on board.
About three times as many rich people sailing first class survived compared with poor people traveling in third class. Americans had a 15 percent higher survival rate than the British, Irish and the Swedes. Women had a 51.7 percent better chance of survival than men, while women accompanied by children were 74 percent better off.
The Titanic sank the night of April 14, 1912, about 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, with the loss of 1,517 people.