It’s widely accepted that Britons love queuing more than nearly anything else – and we’ll often be happy to be wait in line while silently grumbling about delays and inefficiency without ever daring to fully raise our voices.
But it seems that might not be the case, after a new study found that Brits will only queue for a maximum of five minutes and 54 seconds in shops before throwing in the towel in sheer exasperation.
According to research by University College London, we’re only happy to queue for just shy of six minutes – and we only remain calm if staff appear visibly busy or making a conscientious effort to deal with the queues.
Also, while people are unlikely to join a queue that has more than six people in it, it seems people are likely to stick with in a queue if develops so that there are six or more people behind them.
The ‘rule of six’ continues with people in a queue becoming stressed and uncomfortable unless there is six inches of space around them.
But there’s a certain de rigour to it too – and queuing taboos are said to include pushing in line, engaging in conversation while waiting, and even accepting a kind offer to go ahead in the queue.
All these practices, the study claims, are considered to be unacceptable as they spark a sense of injustice in the queue.
Professor Adrian Furnham, who led the study, said: ‘The British have a well-established culture of queuing and a very specific type of queue conduct, one that has been known to confuse many a foreign visitor.
‘In a time when Britain is changing rapidly, and the ways in which we queue are shifting, the psychology behind British queuing is more important than ever – it a one of the keys to unlocking British culture.’
Take note, queue fans.