Research: changing queues for cash register is really not faster

World December 27, 2017 16:15

amsterdam - Everyone knows it: you are queuing up at the counter, but the line next to you seems to go much faster. That is why you transfer to the other cash register. The result: you are waiting even longer than if you had just stopped.

Harvard researchers wanted to know why we are not just staying in the one row where we already stood. The answer? We are all afraid to be the last. For example, we not only do not like to stand in line at the back, we do not want to earn the least or have the smallest house. And we do not like to drive on the slowest lane in traffic jams.

The Harvard experiment gave participants the opportunity to wait in line, move to another row or step out of the queue. Twinting percent of the people who were last in line were impatient and decided to go to another cash register. But what turned out to be: on average, those who changed lanes waited ten percent longer. The participants who changed course twice had to wait 67 percent longer.

'It is ridiculous, because the number of people behind you obviously has nothing to do with how long you have to wait, but it does affect our behavior,' says scientist Ryan Buell to the British newspaper The Guardian. 'If we see another row moving faster we would like to join, although it is not at all certain that that row is actually faster,' says Buell.

Conclusion: if you are standing in front of the cash register and the other row seems to go faster, try to suppress the so-called 'last place-aversion' and stay- even if you are in the back seat. Then you are really faster.

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