Hate Lines? You're Biologically Wired to Detest Them

Dacy Knight

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It's been estimated that we spend a full four years of our lives waiting in lines. Hence it comes as no surprise that we're so put off when we're forced to wait for even a little. Our time is precious and waiting for an unknown duration beyond our control directly threatens it. Psychology Today recently examined the psychology of queuing, delving into the research that explains why we're biologically wired to detest waiting in line.

Numerous studies have sought to understand why waiting in line is so vehemently opposed by so many. It has the ability to stir up emotions of frustration, discomfort, and even anger. One of the major factors contributing to our disdain for lines is a matter of expectation. When the wait time exceeds what you originally expected, the greater the psychological cost of waiting. This compounds with the fact that we're not very good at estimating how long we've been waiting for, with one study finding that individuals estimate that they have waiting 78% longer than they actually have. How our personal space is compromised also greatly contributes to the negative feelings we have about waiting in line. When queues are not well-partitioned, or when we must stand too close to others, our irritation escalates much quicker.

So while none of these explanations ease the pain of waiting, they do allow us to better understand where our emotions are coming from when we find ourselves in a rage even when the wait time isn't really an inconvenience.

If lines have you down, discover how to be happier and stronger in 2017.

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