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Why We Act Strangely While Using an Elevator

Psychology plays a major part in our lives, but we usually don’t think about. Our moods, emotions, thoughts, reactions and other pieces of our psyches are in the background and most of us don’t focus on them. Instead, we live our lives simply, without over-analyzing everything going on inside our heads. This does not mean that psychology doesn’t play into our daily activities, such as riding an elevator up and down our office building. It turns out that the way we act in the lift cabin is highly influenced by psychology.

According to BBC News Magazine, elevators showcase the most anxious parts of our minds and we probably don’t even notice it:

“‘Most of us sort of shut down. We walk in. We press the button. We stand perfectly still.’ Taking the lift could be the least memorable part of your journey to work, but Dr Lee Gray of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte has made it his business to scrutinise this overlooked form of public transportation.”

The article says that the social implications of riding elevators are ‘odd,’ especially when you consider how close we are to other passengers inside these lifts. What is even more odd is the set of movements that we prescribe to when we are riding the elevator. Making room for other passengers has become something that can be predicted, according to the piece:

“If there are two of you, you take different corners. Standing diagonally across from each other creates the greatest distance.  When a third person enters, you will unconsciously form a triangle. And when there is a fourth person it’s a square, with someone in every corner. A fifth person is probably going to have to stand in the middle.”

The main reason for our anxiety and pre-planned movements in elevators is simple, Dr. Gray says. The fact that we don’t have enough space causes us to act as unnatural as the situation is. How do you feel when you travel using an elevator?


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