Friday, June 1, 2012

How Disney lies to you to make you happier

Studies show that we’re much more patient when we’re given an idea of how long we’ll be waiting, instead of wondering whether it will be three minutes or three hours. So, for example, some New York City subway platforms now feature digital displays featuring estimated arrival times for the next few trains. But again, Disney is the master. It posts estimated wait times next to various spots in its long queues—but, according to [MIT queuing theory professor Dick] Larson, it pads the times so you always get to the head of the line more quickly than you’d expected: “You think, ‘We’re 10 minutes ahead of schedule!’ and so you’re happy.”
--Seth Stevenson, Slate, on optimal expectations