Living In Line

Monday, November 22, 2010 - 3:16pm

Professor looks into psychology of camping in line for movie premiers and other events.

Hate waiting in long lines?

Some people don't mind it at all, even if they have to do it outside in the elements for hours or days at a time.

Hundreds lined up at the Sandy, Utah Costco Friday for the chance to have former President George W. Bush autograph a copy of his new book, "Decision Points."

The same occurred at movie theaters as Harry Potter fans wanted to be the first to see the latest movie, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1."

So, why do people do this?

For a variety of reasons, and it depends on the event.

Westminster College professor Paul Presson says being first also plays into the behavior.

"I think to a certain degree it elevates their quality of life, that they're part of something bigger than their normal day-to-day life," he says. "And it gives them something later to reminisce about. Chances are they're not alone, so they have friends and family that they can talk about it with."

Presson says others are motivated by the scarcity of the event: for example, the rare chance to interact, if only briefly, with former President Bush.

Iraq veteran Nathan Baker spent the night at Costco.

"Never am I going to see the president again," he says. "And so I thought this was my chance," he said.

Presson says if people perceive that waiting in line for hours or days is a good deal to them, then they'll do it.

"It's a cost benefit analysis if you want to think of it that way. There's something that they perceive that they're going to get out of this that they can't get otherwise, so it's worth it to them," he explains.

And more often than not, they'll rarely come away disappointed.

"You waited in line all night. You froze your butt off waiting to get in there and now you go in there, if you don't like it, doing that was kind of stupid. So, of course you're going to like it!" he says.

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