Mysteries of Modern Life (#1)

Why is it that whenever someone gets in a lift, they always press the button of the floor they want to go to, even when it’s already been pressed?

I noticed this a while ago, and I’m starting to develop a quite irrational hatred of it. Everyone seems to do it and I’ve got absolutely no idea why. Any thoughts?

Pic credit: kilowatthour


6 Responses to “Mysteries of Modern Life (#1)”

  1. Asi Says:

    hmmm…. very interesting observation. completely irrational, yet we’re all doing it.

    The physiologcal explanation I believe, will take you to the amigdala, that part of the brain that is in charge of all the everyday automated actions.

    The sociological explanation might be that (a)lift is a stresfull, claustrophobic setting/environment in which we (b) meet strangers whom we don’t have any relationship and trust.

    But than there are so many other irrational things we do…

  2. Doug Says:

    Hey Asi,

    Thanks, those are a really good couple of explanations. # 2 I had assumed would be a factor (although I wouldn’t have articulated it as well as you!) but # 1 I would never have got to – I’ll investigate more tonight!



  3. Gagey Says:

    You should read faster by james gleick, where he confronts this particular social phenomena. His reasoning is that people want things to happen faster (hence the title) so pressing the button will somehow make them feel psychologically better that the lift will get them there more quickly.

    An additional thought from me: people like to feel that they’re in control of a situation and the pressing of the button gives them back that control. (particularly if they’re in with strangers)


  4. Doug Says:

    mate, a couple more cracking suggestions. do you have faster perchance?

  5. FishNChimps Says:

    The little light is lying and is trying to deceive me. Take THAT naughty light button – you’re not catching me out!

  6. Sean Says:

    It’s the same thing with ordering food. Why do we always open up the menu again and point to the cheesburger to say, “I’ll have the cheeseburger with fries.” It’s a confirmation reflex or something.

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