Does the shape of the queue matter? What determines how waiting lines are organized? 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. 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? The line is more like a cluster. Why? 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. In other words, people know each other because of family relationships. So, the line shape looks difference and queueing dynamics changes because of socialization. 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”? What about other queueing dynamics, such as the physics of wait time, number of servers – are queues managed differently because of this cultural phenomenon?
- www.yangliudesign.com ↩