The Agony Of Waiting

December 8, 2012 in Daily Bulletin

Centives has previously covered queuing theory – the analysis of how humans react to being in queues. Alex Stone showed that the real problem with queues is that we hate being idle:

  • When Houston airport moved the baggage carousel further away from where the passengers disembarked from their aircraft, the number of complaints about the delays in getting baggage fell to zero – even though the average wait time hadn’t changed. Passengers didn’t mind walking a long way to get their bags. They minded waiting around.
  • In general people overestimate how much time they’ve spent in a queue by 36%.
  • To mitigate the effects of creeping boredom, elevator banks in skyscrapers have mirrors so that individuals have something to do while they wait for the lift.
  • Impulse buys in supermarkets happen because picking the items up gives us something to do while we wait in line.

Read more about how human psychology can be manipulated to reduce the amount of dissatisfaction that people have, and the role that social justice plays over here.

Source: The New York Times