Saturday, April 14, 2012
Life In An Elevator
You walk into an elevator and push the button for your desired floor. The button lights up. The elevator stops at the next floor and another person enters. He or she pushes the same button that’s already lit up.
According to Dario Maestripieri’s new book, “Games Primates Play,” that elevator ride represents a game of dominance — similar to those exhibited by other primates.
I'm not entirely convinced by the thesis, at least based on this blurb. This immediately brought to mind an article in the old Journal of Mundane Behavior, In and Out of Elevators in Japan:
Upon entrance, there is always some hesitation about who goes first among a group of people. Everyone is usually so pleased to yield to everyone else that there is often a real danger that no one will actually get into the elevator before it leaves. Once inside, the person nearest the floor buttons is quick either to press a button for everyone else's floor, or at least to demonstrate willingness to do so. Consideration of others is often so extreme that a person exiting will not only excuse himself or herself – sumimasen (“excuse me”) being once more the most operative word in Japanese public life -- but press the “close” button so that less time will be lost to those remaining in the elevator.
Seems different than the Maestripieri's description of (presumably Western) elevator behavior--deference as opposed to dominance. So much of how we act in elevators and other spaces would appear to depend not on innate primateness, but cultural deviations.
April 14, 2012 | Permalink
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