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.
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Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
A new study, led by psychologist Jean Twenge, points to the screen as the problem.
- In a new study, adolescents and young adults are experiencing increased rates of depression and suicide attempts.
- The data cover the years 2005–2017, tracking perfectly with the introduction of the iPhone and widespread dissemination of smartphones.
- Interestingly, the highest increase in depressive incidents was among individuals in the top income bracket.
On Thursday, New Zealand moved to ban an array of semi-automatic guns and firearms components following a mass shooting that killed 50 people.
- Gun control supporters are pointing to the ban as an example of swift, decisive action that the U.S. desperately needs.
- Others note the inherent differences between the two nations, arguing that it is a good thing that it is relatively hard to pass such legislation in such a short timeframe.
- The ban will surely shape future conversations about gun control in the U.S.
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