The Psychology of Waiting in Lines: 8 Reasons That the Wait Seems LongI’m a very impatient person, and standing in a slow-moving line drives me crazy. So, I set out to understand the psychology behind my frustration.

In my quest, I happened to read a paper by David Maister, The Psychology of Waiting Lines (PDF). The piece is aimed at people who operate stores, restaurants, doctors’ offices, and other places where people fuss about being kept waiting.

Of course, most of us are the ones standing in line, not the ones controlling the line. But I was fascinated by the insight this paper provided into my own psychology of waiting.

Maister’s main point is that the actual time we’re waiting may have little to do with how long the wait feels.

Here’s a list of eight factors that make waits seem longer.

2 Comments to
The Psychology of Waiting: 8 Factors that Make the Wait Seem Longer

Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines. The comments below begin with the oldest comments first. Click on the last comments page to jump to the most recent comments.

  1. Used to hate waiting in line ups of any kind, until I started meditation. This taught me many things, including patience. I started using my time in line ups as a positive experience! Sometimes I will engage strangers in conversation with light banter. Occasionally I will remember that this is a learning opportunity! Other times it is a good reminder about the choices I make.

    I am now Christian and I now ask God to help me find the opportunities in the waiting! Any way I look at it now, its all good for growth an d maturity.

  2. I remember a business that had customer complaints because the elevator wait and ride was too long. The company did not want the expense of installing a new faster elevator. The problem was really identified as people people being bored. Popular music was added to the lobby and elevator and people so enjoyed the nusic they enjoyed the wait! Problem solved.

Join the Conversation!

Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines.

Post a Comment:


(Required, will be published)

(Required, but will not be published)

(Optional)

Recent Comments
  • John M. Grohol, Psy.D.: We criticize unethical practices here all the time. Sometimes our choice of language is...
  • L: I’m curious about why the comments about how incongruous it is to find the statement “you are an...
  • Tru Le: The truth is, when you are “in nature” (inside the matrix), pain is certain and suffering is...
  • carla: Some good and some trite and some wrong advice. A victim can be completely innocent and not needing to face...
  • Alexis: I am so glad I finally looked more into this. I started having panic attacks at the end of this past July due...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter


Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code