Why We Hate Waiting in Line
Americans will spend 37 billion hours waiting in lines this year but how we experience that wait depends more on our psychology than it does any objective measure of time spent waiting.
What's the Latest Development?
Americans will spend roughly 37 billion hours waiting in lines this year and whether we feel merely inconvenienced or thoroughly frazzled by the wait depends more on our psychology than on any objective measure of time spent waiting. Standing in line for five minutes represents unoccupied time, which people tend to report as lasting longer than the same five minutes of occupied time. In an attempt to alleviate our stress, businesses have responded by occupying us, whether that means placing mirrors in elevators, or tabloids and packets of gum at the grocery store checkout lane.
What's the Big Idea?
Beyond our individual experiences of waiting in line, orderly queues represent an attempt by society to be fair, with those who cut the line subject not only to the ire of people behind them but people in front of them, as well. "A study of fans in line for U2 tickets found that people are just as upset by slips and skips that occur behind them, and thus don’t lengthen their wait, as they are by those in front of them." Our fairness standard also states that waiting time should be proportional to the value of what we are waiting for, which explains the express checkout lane at grocery stores, a rare socially-sanctioned violation of first-come-first-served principle.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
Who is to blame for the U.S.'s dismal college graduation rate? "Radical" educator Dennis Littky has a hunch.
- COVID-19 has magnified the challenges that underserved communities face with regard to higher education, such as widening social inequality and sky-high tuition.
- At College Unbound, where I am president, we get to know students individually to understand what motivates them, so they can build a curriculum based on goals they want to achieve.
- My teaching mantra: Everything is permitted during COVID-19. Everything is permitted during COVID-19. Everything is permitted during COVID-19.
Meteorologists propose a stunning new explanation for the mysterious events in the Bermuda Triangle.
One of life's great mysteries, the Bermuda Triangle might have finally found an explanation. This strange region, that lies in the North Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been the presumed cause of dozens and dozens of mind-boggling disappearances of ships and planes.
Did you know that shifting to a positive perspective on aging can add 7.5 years to your life? Or that there is a provable U-curve of happiness that shows people get happier after age 50?
Sweden tops the ranking for the third year in a row.
What does COVID-19 mean for the energy transition? While lockdowns have caused a temporary fall in CO2 emissions, the pandemic risks derailing recent progress in addressing the world's energy challenges.