Chivalry is not dead: AXA research reveals that little things mean a lot to UK women

In a study of 5,000 people, AXA has revealed that a chivalrous act – considered by many to be outdated in the 21st century– is still a little thing that means a lot to many people across the UK. In fact, women overwhelmingly welcome these kinds of gestures.

3 December 2013

Posted in People

  • More than four in five modern women welcome a man holding the door open for them
  • Three quarters of women like to be offered a seat on the commute and nearly two thirds want a man to hold out a chair for them
  • However, only 15 per cent of men will regularly offer up their seat on a train or bus
  • Just seven per cent of women feel patronised by chivalry


However, even though these little things appear to mean a lot to women, many men do not feel comfortable or willing to offer them.


Less than one in five men (18 per cent) will regularly pull out a chair for a woman to sit down and over three quarters of men do not feel compelled to offer to help carry a woman’s heavy bags or luggage.


Only 15 per cent of men regularly offer up their seat on the train or bus for a woman. Four in ten men rarely or never hold out a chair for a woman.  More than a third of men state that that they are unlikely to offer to help a woman carry a buggy up or down stairs.


Overall, men don’t welcome these acts themselves.  Just 60 per cent of men would welcome a door being held open for them by a member of the opposite sex.  And just a third of men (32 per cent) feel positively about a seat being offered to them on a train or bus, with one in five (21 per cent) stating they would be embarrassed. Despite male perceptions that women may feel ‘insulted’ or ‘patronised’ to be offered a seat, in reality just one in 25 women feels embarrassment and only seven per cent of women view chivalrous acts as patronising.

There seems to be a ‘disconnect’ between what women appreciate in terms of little chivalric gestures from men, and how men think women want to be treated. This report makes it clear that it is still little things that mean a lot to many women but men seem confused by the modern ‘women want to be treated as equal to men’ message. This message was primarily meant for the workplace and was never meant to replace good manners

Men will always be the stronger sex, physically, and so it is only natural for men to want to show consideration for women when it comes to dealing with doors, heavy luggage or by offering a seat on public transport. So if men are worried about the response they will get, women should respond to any little chivalric gesture that means a lot to them with obvious appreciation, so that men will feel encouraged to repeat such actions to more women in the future.

Donna Dawson, Psychologist

We all know that little things do make a difference but it is quite surprising to see how important some of the rather old fashioned gestures still are.  It demonstrates the value consumers place on good manners, which is all part of providing great customer service.

Chris Jones, Head of Brand at AXA UK