According to the researchers at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, a comparative study of the survivors of the infamous 20th century disasters that wrecked the Titanic and Lusitania ocean liners respectively in
1912 and 1915, in the face of any catastrophic situation, the rationale of ‘self-preservation’ generally surpasses all other social norms and rules if the reaction time is less.
According to the study, it is the time that people have at hand, while reacting to the life-and-death situations, which actually determines whether it is “Women and children first” or “Every man for himself.”
The comparative reactions of the people of the two shipwrecks have revealed that the 18-minutes sinking time of the Lusitania saw the majority of survivors being young men and women who responded instantly to their powerful survival instincts; while the nearly 3-hours sinking time of the Titanic allowed time for more civilized instincts – with the bulk of the survivors being women, children, and people with young children.
Publishing their findings in a recent online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers – led by economist Benno Torgler - said that while the “survival of the fittest” rule applied on the survivors of Lusitania; the prevailing social etiquettes and orders of authorities came to fore in case of the Titanic crew as well as passengers.