Daily Archives: February 11, 2008

the psychology of queues

The MIT student paper has a column on Richard Larson and queuing. Apparently, Larson received funding from NSF to study the psychology of queuing and published the results in Operations Research in 1987 in a paper entitled “Perspectives on Queues: Social Justice and The Psychology of Queueing”.

Larson, R. C., “Perspectives on Queues: Social Justice and The Psychology of Queueing.” Operations Research 35(6):895-905, November-December, 1987.

Queues involve waiting, to be sure, but one’s attitudes toward queues may be influenced more strongly by other factors. For instance, customers may become infuriated if they experience social injustice, defined as violation of first in, first out. Queueing environment and feedback regarding the likely magnitude of the delay can also influence customer attitudes and ultimately, in many instances, a firm’s market share. Even if we focus on the wait itself, the “outcome” of the queueing experience may vary nonlinearly with the delay, thus reducing the importance of average time in queue, the traditional measure of queueing performance. This speculative paper uses personal experiences, published and unpublished cases, and occasionally “the literature” to begin to organize our thoughts on the important attributes of queueing. To flesh out more of these issues, the author asks for your cards and letters.

Want to hear more? I previously wrote about an NPR podcast on queuing starring Richard Larson.


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