Representatives from the international magazine set out to test courtesy in major cities in 35 countries. They tested whether people opened doors for others, helped someone to pick up paper dropped in the street, and whether shop assistants said ‘thank you’ after taking payment.
Stockholm came out tenth in the survey overall, and would have done a lot worse if it were not for the courtesy of people in the city’s shops. All the shop staff tested by the researchers said ‘tack’ when receiving money for payment. Only salespeople in Zürich equalled the performance of the Swedish retail trade.
Swedes on the street let down the good performance of their counterparts behind the shop counter. Stockholmers landed in 25th place when it came to helping people to pick up papers dropped on the street. During rush hour, seven out of ten people in Stockholm helped pick up dropped papers, but during less busy periods nobody stopped at all.
“Our theory is that people stopped when it was rush hour because the papers were getting in their way. In less busy periods they could just skirt round them,” said Anna-Karin Rabe of Reader’s Digest Sweden.
Stockholmers managed a respectable eleventh place when it came to holding doors open for others.
New York led the overall politeness league, and residents of the Big Apple were ruled to be particularly good at holding doors open for others. Zürich led the European rankings, while London and Paris finished a joint fifteenth.
The most impolite cities in the world were in Asia. Of nine Asian cities tested, eight landed in the survey’s bottom eleven. All cities apart from Hong Kong were ranked in the bottom ten when it came to opening doors.
The survey also claims to discredit the complaint from older people that the youth of today have no manners. Readers Digest claims that the politest people worldwide were those under 40, while the least polite were those over 60.