Customers’ reactions to waiting: Effects of the presence of ‘fellow sufferers’ in the waiting room
In a field experiment, Social Facilitation Theory (SFT) and Affiliation Theory (AT) were applied to waiting. SFT predicts the effects of 'waiting alone' or 'waiting with others' on the waiting experience. As predicted, when the wait is long, waiting with others makes it less acceptable. Under these conditions, waiting times are also less accurately estimated. AT prescribes the conditions under which one shows preference to wait with others; a preference which proves to be stronger when one feels anxious or uncertain during the wait. These results imply that though customers may prefer to wait with others, the effects of group waiting can be detrimental to the acceptability judgment and interfere with the estimation of the waiting time duration. This has implications for the design of waiting rooms.