Who opens the door for whom? Men for women? Or just for those who look like they need a hand? There are so many versions of the door-holding rule (including holding a door for no one but yourself), and some are hilariously outdated. As many as 41 percent of Americans surveyed would prefer to maintain the tradition of men opening doors for women [source: CBS News]. But in a world of good manners, shouldn't the rule on holding doors just be that the first person to arrive at a door holds it open for the person following, not because of society's expectations, but simply because of good manners?
There may be a scientific, not cultural, reason behind our door-holding etiquette. Scientists report we unconsciously hold open a door for the person behind us if that person is close, and, correspondingly, when we see a door held for us we unconsciously quicken our pace. It turns out that by doing so, we're saving the time and effort collectively for all of us [source: Santamaria and Rosenbaum]. Plus, if everyone went along with it, it should come out pretty evenly on how many times every single person held a door — which is only fair.
If you're the one on the receiving end, it's polite to thank the person holding the door for you. And don't forget to pay it forward.