People often cut in line: “May I use the Xerox machine?”—enabled them to cut 60% of the time. Adding that they were rushed allowed them to cut 94% of the time. And “May I use the Xerox machine, because I need to make copies?” was almost as effective, despite its flimsiness. …
The last paragraph reminds me of The Asshole Filter.
I'm not sure I can articulate this well, but I think both Charlie and JW have the same point as Robin in regards to confrontation and power dynamic. The queue standers, or the sibling with the toy, can acquiesce to the request or deny it. They might be acting in the best interest of society, but they are exercising the sole power to make that decision. The right of possession of the toy is similar to the right of those having waited and upholds the social system which, in turn, leads back to Robin's final sentence. If the person is allowed to cut or the toy is relinquished, then the exercise of power or authority in the situation has been to cede dominance by the one making the attempt to dominate.
Not sure this is the configuration you are reffering to, but: https://auto.howstuffworks....
I confront all the people that cut the line, nor do I allow anyone to cut in front of me when I am standing in line on the highway exit. The only reason people have a possibility to cut in front of me is that there are very dire consequences to violence.
A queue is functionally an unspoken group consensus to use first-come first-served for the allocation of some scarce resource, such as access to an ATM. This is a fair system, all else equal. But when someone asks to jump the queue, they are making a request to allow themselves to bypass this process and instead implement a temporary process of allocation of resource by need instead.
By observation, we can see that the average queue stander in polite society generally does not articulate a strong preference for the fairness of the first-come first-served system when presented with a queue jumper who is making a request for a need-based allocation of resources. This makes sense! If this need is genuine, then it optimizes overall societal well-being for the queue-jumper to be allowed preferential access to the scarce resource based on their proportionally increased utility to be gained by being allowed preferential access to the resource. Only in the case where queue standers can articulate a reasonable argument against need-based allocation, such as when the queue jumper seems insincere, do people generally object.
In conclusion, queue jumping as a practice increases overall societal utility, a fact that society generally understands and therefore defaults to allowing to occur. Speculating that it's due to some Freudian desire to be dominated seems to fail Occam's Razor when compared to the argument that it simply makes everyone better off.
Although I agree with you some cases, probably less than half, I'd agree but in most cases I think it is not fear of conflict. Here is why:
When my boys were young they would sometimes fight over toys with one buy just grabbing it away from the other, so I told them that whoever has the toy should have rights to it until they give it up, but if you want it, you should ask, Can I please have that toy. I told them that that acknowledges the possessor's right to the toy and his right to decline. After that I noticed when asked, the child with the toy would mostly give it up. That is if the other tried to grab the toy, the other boy would fight for it, but when asked with the submissive world "please" he would give it up.
I didn't say you needed to risk confrontation to get by, I said that those you "ask" can feel they risk confrontation by saying "no".
I think there's also some probability X that the person you're cutting will be a person you'll have to interact with in the future, or another friend of yours will spot you abusing the system, and the social cost to your reputation if that happens will be much greater than the cost to your reputation.
Doesn't it seem obviously better to live in a world where if you need to urgently skip the queue, people will accomodate you? And so as long as there's not too many people defecting and abusing the priviledge, people generally coordinate around this and let people in when they pass.
I have not found it that you need to risk confrontation to get let by; you may be entirely willing to back down if someone says no, make it clear, and still be allowed through.
I'm 85% sure that your last sentence is gramatically dodgy.
"We will often let people walk all over us as long as we can pretend we are thereby being nice."In my personal experience, someone asking to line-cut is very rare and therefore does credibly indicates a greater need as does the pleading, embarassed, stressed tone of voice and/or the plausible explanation, that they've got a train or plane to catch, that comes with such a request.I think this attiude is typical for Germans, but I got no data on that (not sure there is, but maybe something something social trust proxy).
Your first and third example seem shockingly antisocial to me. But the second one is just people with only hand luggage trying to escape from being trapped in the corridor by suitcases. That kind of behaviour does not really cause others to lose much time relative to what they can gain. I did that myself once.In my mind I did not feel like I was trying to dominate anyone.
A related shopping example:I am the next-in-line in a queue in a supermarket and I have lots of stuff on the conveyor belt. Nobody is behind me. Then someone with only a couple things appears behind me. If I notice I will always offer them to go in front of me. And I also know that if I'm in their position, the chances are pretty good, that I will be offered this courtesy.
People being actually nice is sometimes a good explanation too, you know.
If we consider the probability X of being harassed for cutting in line as a social "cost", then there is some socially optimal value of X. If X is too high, cutting will happen too often, reducing fairness. If X is too low, people who *really need* to cut won't be able to/willing to risk trying.
Of course this means that people who are less bothered by social awkwardness are getting a better deal, and people who are overly polite are cutting too rarely. For this reason, a homogeneous society benefits more from line cutting (one where people are uniformly polite) and the optimal value of X is probably lower for a homogeneous society than for a pluralistic one.
One way to test this hypothesis would be if e.g. Swedes were less likely to confront cutters than Americans (or people in small towns vs New Yorkers).
Since most people find confrontation uncomfortable, this means that willingness to risk confrontation can serve as a costly signal (of urgency, most often).