When you’re in a grocery line that seems to be going nowhere, you shouldn’t make the switch to another queue. Unless that cashier just opened up next to you with no waiting, researchers say skipping from one line to another is actually counterproductive.
Researchers at Harvard Business School recently discovered that when someone finds themselves at the end of a line they will be more inclined to make decisions that can backfire. The issue comes from no one wanting to be “last,” reports The Guardian.
If you’re in a line with no one behind you then you’re apparently four times as likely to decide that a line next to you might be a better bet and jump ship. However, by in large that chance actually equated to people waiting longer to be served than they would have if they had just stayed put.
The idea is interesting because the length of time you wait in line really has absolutely nothing to do with the number of people waiting behind you, but it still effects your perception of the situation.
When you have no one else behind you and see another line moving faster you might decide to make a switch without taking all the other factors into consideration. For instance, that one beside you might have moved quickly for a second because a woman only had three items, but the next customer has 100 items and 75 coupons, you’re not going anywhere soon.
Yes, sometimes it might work in your favour, but the odds are it won’t and when you have people behind you you’re much less likely to make the change.
Unless that golden ticket of a person-free line opens up, you’re almost always better off staying in the first line you’ve chosen. While you might be at the back in the beginning, eventually some other poor soul will queue up behind you.