Anticipation: The Psychology of Waiting in Line

The Huffington Post:

We all spend a lot of time waiting in lines — way more than we’d like. We wait for motor vehicle registration, for tables at popular restaurants, for Black Friday sales, groceries — and of course, we wait on hold for the cable company.

It’s fair to say that most of this waiting is tedious and unpleasant. But what if we’re waiting for something new and exciting — a new curved-screen TV or that vacation to Tulum? Doesn’t waiting for new purchases become a positive experience, where we actually savor the anticipation so much that it trumps our impatience?

Well, yes and no, says Cornell University psychological scientist Thomas Gilovich, who has been investigating when and why new purchases give us pleasure. It’s well known that people derive more happiness from experiences than from stuff, and Gilovich wondered if this might also be true of anticipation. Is waiting for an experience more pleasurable and less aversive than waiting for a new material possession?

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

Wray Herbert is an author and award-winning journalist who writes two popular blogs for APSWe’re Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology. Follow Wray on Twitter @wrayherbert.

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