A long line can make you wonder about, and want, whatever is at the front of it. But the experience of waiting in that long line can make you want it even more.
Ayelet Fishbach, Jeffrey Breakenridge Keller Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing at Chicago Booth, and then–Booth PhD student Minjung Koo, now an assistant professor at Sungkyunkwan University, look at lines from the psychological viewpoint, and say that people learn something about the value of products as they wait for them.
In several field studies in cafés and amusement parks, Fishbach finds that if there’s someone behind you in line, you will feel the product you’re waiting for is more valuable, and you’ll like it more. She says that’s because you feel you’ve invested time and effort to get the product, and people generally like things that they worked hard to get.
Minjung Koo and Ayelet Fishbach, “A Silver Lining of Standing in Line: Queuing Increases Value of Products,” Journal of Market Research, August 2010.