Sociology In Elevators

by Christopher Paul on April 14, 2013

If there is any subject outside of computers and finance that has always peaks my interest, it’s the sociology. Whether it’s looking at cultural similarities or social orders, I’m fascinated by how similar we are in spite of our differences.

And I love looking at how we behave in seemingly boring situations like riding an elevator.

As a result of 30 elevator journeys (15 in each building) a clear social order could be seen regarding where people positioned themselves inside the elevators and how they interacted with the design features, such as mirrors and monitors. More senior men in particular seemed to direct themselves towards the back of the elevator cabins. In front of them were younger men, and in front of them were women of all ages. Men watched the monitors, looked in the side mirrors (in one building) to see themselves, and in the door mirrors (of the other building) to also watch others. Women would watch the monitors and avoid eye contact with other users (unless in conversation) and the mirrors. It was only when the women travelled with other women, and just a few at that, that women elevator users would utilise the mirrors. One interviewee even mentioned that she only looked in the mirrors when there was no one else in the elevator.

But there’s more…

People lose their perception of time when it comes to waiting for an elevator to arrive when called. And I recall watching a show on how elevators were made that the door close button doesn’t do anything… people want it to have sense of control. And, oddly enough, even though I know this, I still press the door close button when I want the door to close.

via Kottke

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