A Psychological Remedy for Queueing Stressors: How Predicted Remaining Wait and Perceptions of Load Moderate Service Aggression
Queues and, therefore, waiting are inherent to service encounters, yet they can fuel aggression. We take a step toward remedying this problem by showing how psychological assessments of remaining wait and system load can buffer the operational causes of aggression. To do so, we triangulate objective data on wait times, crowding, and aggression with survey data from 226 people capturing psychological dynamics relating to operational aspects of remaining wait and system load. First, replicating previous findings, we show that crowdedness is positively related to aggression toward service staff (regardless of time waited). However, notably, we also show that this relationship is moderated by the aforementioned psychological assessments. Based on these psychological dynamics, we suggest two mechanisms for reducing aggression in queues: fostering subjective assessments of the predicted remaining wait as short, and of the system load as particularly heavy. We further show that the interaction between these two factors (subjective assessments of remaining wait and system load) strengthens the psychological effects on the relationship between queues and aggression.