Does the shape of the queue matter? Â What determines how waiting lines are organized?Â How Are Waiting Lines Shaped Between the East and West?
A provocative young artist recently published a set of infographics that compare the differences between the West and the East. Â In one of those, she portrays the differences in waiting between the West and the East.
In that infographic, you get a sense of the organization, shape, and cultural biases 1.
What is the reason for this cultural difference in wait line experience?
It turns out there’s a simple explanation.
Waiting with Teenagers
If you’ve every waited in a line with many teenagers in it – like opening night for a heart throb movie or something – what do you notice? Â The line is more like a cluster. Â Why? Â It turns out the line shape becomes a cluster shape because of socialization: queue occupiers find people they know, start talking, and the shape of the line changes.
In the East, apparently, there is a higher likelihood of ancestral or familial relationships. Â In other words, people know each other because of family relationships. Â So, the line shape looks difference and queueing dynamics changes because of socialization. Â Makes sense.
The Psychology of Queueing
If what I claim is true, how does socialization in queues impact the psychology of queueing?
- Unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time.
- Process-waits feel longer than in-process waits.
- Anxiety makes waits seem longer.
- Uncertain waits seem longer than known, finite waits.
- Unfair waits are longer than equitable waits.
- The more valuable the service, the longer the customer is willing to wait.
- Solo waits feel longer than group waits.
It’s Your Turn
Does socialization in queues make waiting “feel shorter”? Â What about other queueing dynamics, such as the physics of wait time, number of servers – are queues managed differently because of this cultural phenomenon?
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