Research Exercise: Waiting in Line

Popular Secondary Article:

Primary Work:

(The primary information was gathered from an online journal, but I was not sure how to enter all of the information in the blog post. This is just a link to the journal’s information)




In this popular science literature piece, “Anticipation: The Psychology of Waiting in Line”, its author, Wray Herbert outlines the scientist, Thomas Gilovich’s work in his experiment. This experiment studied people’s general reactions to waiting in line for possessions versus waiting in line for experiences. The popular article outlined Gilovich’s work, outlining the independent and dependent variables of the experiment and its outcomes.

Herbert wrote that Gilovich was able to discover that, while waiting in line for possessions like technology or furniture, people were more likely to become impatient and unhappy. While waiting in line for experiences like a trip or concert, people were less likely to become impatient and noted feelings of excitement rather than irritation. This significant lack of displeasure towards the anticipation of experiences led Gilovich to try different experiences, as Herbert noted in his review of his work.

Herbert wrote about Gilovich’s findings in his second set of experiments. He said that Gilovich was able to discover a common trend occurring in the involvement of pleasurable or non-pleasurable anticipation while waiting. Gilovich discovered that people who waited for experiences were more likely to be seen displaying good behavior like singing or smiling. Those who waited for possessions were more likely to be met in riots or diplays of unruliness.

In Gilovich’s writing about his findings, he was able to describe in great detail the processes of the experiment. He was able to decisively wrie about the data he collected, as it was his data primarily.

Herbert wrote a generalized article on Gilovich’s work, and talked about most of the key points of the experiment. Herbert’s article was not as in-depth as Gilovich’s study written in Psychological Science, but it was able to mention the most important ideas of the experiment. To a general audience, Herbert was able to clearly articulate the hypothesis, experimentation, and findings of the research.

Gilovich’s experiment and work was much more in-depth than Herbert wrote about in his article. There were procedures and materials that went unmentioned in Herbert’s excerpt. However, these were not necessary to the general public’s understanding of the ideas presented within Gilovich’s experiment. While Gilovich went into much more detail with his description of the aspects of the work, Herbert was able to clearly display their effectiveness in his article.

Gilovich needed to write a more universal, all-consuming piece of literature on his findings in order to render the experiment valid. However, Herbert only needed to articulate the general experiment.

In my opinion, Herbert’s article clearly addresses the experiment in a way that is easily read as well as accurate. It was not Herbert’s intention to give great detail on the experiment’s workings, and his generalized approach to the depiction of Gilovich’s experiment was well written. It is my opinion that Herbert did a good job of outlining the information that Gilovich’s study presented.

If I were to improve the piece of popular science literature, I would write about the controlled variables of the experiment. I would make sure that all aspects of the study were written about generally. I would like to see the article slightly less generalized and more driven towards accurate revelation of data, but I believe the article is a good representation of such, nonetheless.

One response to “Research Exercise: Waiting in Line”

  1. Carlos Aizenman says:

    I couldn’t find the primary article, but as in many things in psychological science, as a field the effect sizes tend to be very small, almost trivial. I find that while the conclusions make catchy headlines, they fail to mention that the underlying science is often flimsy. In this case I can’t tell, the effect might be huge.

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