The Psychology of Waiting Lines

The Psychology of Waiting Lines by User Interface expert Don Norman.

There are lots of lessons in here for transportation, for which queueing is central. Among them:

"One problem with multiple lines is that the other line always appears to be moving faster. This is true of cars in highway lanes and people in shopping market checkout lanes. Whatever lane you switch to, the other one moves faster. The perception occurs because the amount of time to process a person varies. Some people are processed quickly, others incredibly slowly. And no matter which line you are in, it always seems as if it is indeed the slowest. We note and remember when people in other lines start moving faster than the line we are in. We tend not to notice when our line moves quickly ahead of the others. It is this asymmetry that leads to the perception of unfair lines. "
David Levinson

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on May 10, 2009 6:40 PM.

The Decline of Car Culture was the previous entry in this blog.

Jockeys for hire ... casual carpooling for money is the next entry in this blog.

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