The New York Times covers a new study on the co-operative behaviour of passengers when two famous sea-faring passenger liners sunk: the Lusitania sank fast, leading to every-man-for-themself type escape behaviour, whereas the Titanic took almost three hours to sink, meaning women and children were given priority and rank and social class were respected.
It reminds me of a famous, if not somewhat disheartening, study [pdf] on the predictors of survival after air crashes that was covered by Mary Roach’s brilliant book on dead bodies, Stiff. From p87:
Here is the secret to surviving one of these crashes: Be male. In a 1970 Civil Aeromedical institute study of three crashes involving emergency evacuations, the most prominent factor influencing survival was gender (followed closely by proximity to exit). Adult males were by far the most likely to get out alive. Why? Presumably because they pushed everyone else out of the way.