Queue rage: a 21st-century anger problem?

Traffic on Upper Woburn Place in London, England

Traffic on Upper Woburn Place in London, England

Have you been in a queue of traffic, you read the signs, you get the right lane, but then there’s always somebody cutting into the lane at the last minute. Does it annoy you? You’re not alone. When you start feeling your temper becoming frayed because of someone pushing in line, this is an example of a primary instinct one of suspicion.

So what’s going on when I get angry?

Fundamentally, it taps into, what is often called the 3Rs (resources, relationships and residency) the three primary reasons for the feelings of anger, and often rage in people.

Had does someone jumping queues affect me?

Primarily, jumping queue, is seen as an assault on our resources; basically the road is our resource. This gives birth to what is often called “queue rage”. Dr Richard Larson has spent two decades studying the psychology of people waiting in a queue. Furthermore, he, and his colleagues have found that people don’t mind waiting even for prolonged times, as long as the queue is perceived as fair; first-come first-served. Feeling angry about this goes way back to childhood, remember that kid who was always jumping the queue in front of you and the teacher would not see it and  the dinner lady would certainly not.

Road rage can sometimes get out of hand!

Incidences such as, waiting in a traffic queue can often cause road rage incidences, unfortunately people have died in such rages, when things become out of hand.

 

The feeling of mistrust, is an automatic brain response to unfamiliar people; such is the guy who’s just jumped in front of you, after you’ve waited 20 minutes in line. The survival mechanism of the brain, the limbic system, produces feelings that have evolved over millions of years and are unlikely to go away soon. Although we like to think our brains, as modern, they’re not, they have simply not evolved to trust people, instantaneously.  All you have to think about is your front door bell ringing late at night and somebody making a collection for a not-for-profit group, your response might be is this a scam. We as humans are very adept looking at faces and deciding if we can trust the person wearing the face, although trusted is often felt as instantaneous, it is generated through a complex process that links the feeling part of the brain to the thinking part, of the brain (the limbic system to the prefrontal cortex).

Is getting angry really worth it?

So next time you’re in a queue don’t let your limbic system hijack your feelings. Patients, certainly will win out at the end of the day.

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