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Waiting In Line: Why we often put up with long queues

by AirTalk

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Customers queue outside the Apple store in Covent Garden to buy an iPhone 4S on October 14, 2011 in London, England. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

It's probably not an overstatement to say that no one likes to wait in line. It's something we only do out of necessity, but despite our professed dislike, examples abound where people engage voluntarily and courageously with long queues.

Take for instance this story KPCC reported on a while back: A fake coffee shop calling itself "Dumb Starbucks" appeared in Los Feliz one Saturday in February.

Word of the parody spread, and by Sunday, lines had formed around the block filled with curiosity-seekers wanting to check out the place and get a cup of Joe. Even our own intrepid reporter Frank Stoltze spent over an hour to see what was up

So why the paradox? Why do we do the very thing we say we hate doing, i.e. waiting in line?


Laurens Debo, Associate Professor of Operations Management, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His research focuses on queues and the positive aspects of waiting in line

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