Why Are We Creatures of Habit?

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whhistle

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Thinking about commuters here.
I see many people stand in the same place on the platform, board the same door, sit in the same seat.

I wonder if it's because it's easier? A proven method of getting through the day? Autonomous, so less thinking?

What are your thoughts?
 
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EssexGonzo

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Maybe the platform thing is based on having found something that works well for a number of reasons.

I do this because I know I'll probably get a seat. That's my main criteria for choosing where to board in the rush hour. If it stopped working, I'd change my behaviour. So, yeah, I guess, the tiger thing.

Although for some, I'd guess there is a fear of change thing going on?
 

bramling

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Thinking about commuters here.
I see many people stand in the same place on the platform, board the same door, sit in the same seat.

I wonder if it's because it's easier? A proven method of getting through the day? Autonomous, so less thinking?

What are your thoughts?
Partly - but there’s also a logic to such. If you find a particular setup works well then surely it makes sense to try to repeat? There are all sorts of reasons why someone may like a particular seat - that part of the train is likely to be less crowded, like to sit on a particular side to avoid sun glare, more legroom, near to toilet (or far from toilet on some trains!), smoother ride, quieter ride, are likely to be reasons applicable to many commuters. Many regular commuters *do* notice such little details.

One would be foolish to, for example, notice on day one of a new commute that the door stops two metres to the right of where you are standing and then stand in the same place the next day.

What always amuses me is when the day trip brigade turn up and expect to get the same experience as regular users despite not knowing little details like where to stand or where best to board for seats.
 

Up_Tilt_390

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We are creatures of habit because of our evolution, plain and simple really. If a passenger sits in the same seat or stands at the same point on the platform etc., then it clearly serves them well. Ever tried changing seats when you were forced out of your regular one? It's hard getting used to it, right? We want to keep up the old habit because it takes less energy and willpower, but overtime we get used it and it becomes a new habit, since we are very adaptable animals after all.

Really, the tiger analogy put forward did it best. You take that path cause you and your friends didn't get mauled, but if one day your group does start getting mauled, what do you do? Find a new path and make it a new habit. That's not really an ingenious solution, it's something that occurs naturally, all because it helped us survive in the past. The only thing that's changed is that our habitual situations come in the form of convenience rather than survival. If we find a good seat or get one first cause of a certain boarding area, then we go back there because of convenience. If it ain't broke, don't fix it is how life often works really.
 

nlogax

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Thinking about commuters here.
I see many people stand in the same place on the platform, board the same door, sit in the same seat.

I wonder if it's because it's easier? A proven method of getting through the day? Autonomous, so less thinking?

What are your thoughts?
If I time it right my commute is fifteen minutes ending at busy stations, one being a terminus. I stand as there's little point bothering with a seat when it's so much fuss to get up, wait for people to shuffle out etc. Usually I stand at the very back of the train as I try and get as much exercise as I can during a working day when most of the time I'm stuck behind a desk or in meetings.

Longer journeys - if space allows and I don't have a reservation then I look for a forward-facing window seat in the middle or slightly nearer the rear of the carriage on the right hand side. I enjoy the journey most from that position and I've been doing that since my teens. No reason to change it.

It's just what works for us as individuals, right? I dare say many of us are old enough to have had plenty of time to figure this out ;)
 

The_Train

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It comes down to evolutionary history: "I went down this path yesterday and didn't get eaten by a tiger, so I'll go the same way today."
I think it's a little to do with this and a lot to do with autonomous routine, particularly when commuting to work as it can be quite a robotic process from the moment we wake up.

I'm not too fussed where I sit in a carriage, usually I will just plonk myself in the first seat I see available. However, I do tend to target the rear carriage where possible for 2 reasons:
a) quite morbid but it feels like a safer place to be should there be an accident
b) less morbid is the fact that people tend to congregate in the centre of a platform when waiting for a train and will therefore automatically enter the train via middle carriages which usually leaves the rear (and front) carriages emptier
 

Howardh

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When I worked with a company for 7 years I had exactly the same morning routine, same times, same route...except on a Friday I'd go a slightly different way so it felt like a Friday!
 

The_Train

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When I worked with a company for 7 years I had exactly the same morning routine, same times, same route...except on a Friday I'd go a slightly different way so it felt like a Friday!
And never go near your route on a weekend? :E
 

Up_Tilt_390

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I think it's a little to do with this and a lot to do with autonomous routine, particularly when commuting to work as it can be quite a robotic process from the moment we wake up.

I'm not too fussed where I sit in a carriage, usually I will just plonk myself in the first seat I see available. However, I do tend to target the rear carriage where possible for 2 reasons:
a) quite morbid but it feels like a safer place to be should there be an accident
b) less morbid is the fact that people tend to congregate in the centre of a platform when waiting for a train and will therefore automatically enter the train via middle carriages which usually leaves the rear (and front) carriages emptier
That there is a perfect demonstration of being a creature of habit. Those two reasons that draw to the rear carriages are because they suit you best, and as such you habitually target those areas of the train. I've noticed that people use the middle carriages too, so if unreserved I tend to look towards the rear or front doors. It's a habit that works to my advantage, so I will follow it without even using any energy.

Autonomous routine is a part of this process even, because we usually do routines that are most advantageous to us. Your routine might be to drive somewhere in the morning and take the longer route, but because of traffic you find it quicker to take this route. So out of habit, you just naturally drive this way without thinking. Autonomous routine I'd say is part of being a creature of habit.
 

Howardh

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And never go near your route on a weekend? :E
Oh yes...my hockey club games often meant using the same bit of motorway, certainly for home games!! But it never felt the same though, maybe as on the radio it was all sporty stuff and completely different from weekdays so it wasn't the same, and my head was in a completely different place (who will be my back two rather than did that firm leave an order??)!!!
 

The_Train

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Oh yes...my hockey club games often meant using the same bit of motorway, certainly for home games!! But it never felt the same though, maybe as on the radio it was all sporty stuff and completely different from weekdays so it wasn't the same, and my head was in a completely different place (who will be my back two rather than did that firm leave an order??)!!!
I know what you mean. I used to work away from where I lived and decided it would be best to join a gym near to work so I can go directly before/after and not talk myself out of it. Unfortunately it meant quite a trek if I ever fancied a Saturday session (not that it was often) but as with you it just felt so much different making the journey purely for social reasons even though it was the exact same route. I suppose it helped that the M6 wasn't at crawling pace the entire way on a Saturday as well
 

Howardh

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I know what you mean. I used to work away from where I lived and decided it would be best to join a gym near to work so I can go directly before/after and not talk myself out of it. Unfortunately it meant quite a trek if I ever fancied a Saturday session (not that it was often) but as with you it just felt so much different making the journey purely for social reasons even though it was the exact same route. I suppose it helped that the M6 wasn't at crawling pace the entire way on a Saturday as well
Funnily enough, the opposite for me, the M60 was almost empty travelling to work @6.45am but on a Saturday you filled it with the shoppers @ Trafford Centre, the footy fans + day trippers...so always set off with plenty of time in the bank, and that's fine as arriving early meant watching an earler game - rather than siting outside a locked industrial car-park in the dark!!
 

Bletchleyite

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What always amuses me is when the day trip brigade turn up and expect to get the same experience as regular users despite not knowing little details like where to stand or where best to board for seats.
No reason they shouldn't with a properly set up PIS including on-train passenger counting and platform door location markings (in the right place, unlike the ones at St Pancras low level).
 

61653 HTAFC

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I make several different journeys along the same stretch of railway, and (since the timetable change) have an idea of where to stand at my origin station in order to be near the exit at my destination. I don't really know why I bother though, as if I ever end up standing elsewhere due to crowding it doesn't exactly ruin my day!

I'm not bothered why we are creatures of habit, but we are creatures of habit!
 

EM2

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I think the answer to the OP is simply 'because it works for us'.
I used to work with a chap who had his morning routine down pat. He'd walk in the office door at 08:27, go up to the third floor, go to the coffee machine, be at his desk at 08:29 and be on the phone at 08:30, when we were supposed to start.
We got a new supervisor, and my colleague did his usual. The new supervisor said to him later:
'I noticed that you were nearly late this morning.'
'No, I was on time. When I *am* late, then you can discipline me. But it will never happen.'
Talking to him one day, I discovered that he lived alone, five minutes walk from the office. His work clothes were laid out the night before, the kettle was filled with just enough water for his cup of tea, his cereal bowl and spoon were on the worktop. He'd been like most of us, rushing around like a Tasmanian Devil before work, and gradually refined this routine almost to the second.
 

bramling

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I think the answer to the OP is simply 'because it works for us'.
I used to work with a chap who had his morning routine down pat. He'd walk in the office door at 08:27, go up to the third floor, go to the coffee machine, be at his desk at 08:29 and be on the phone at 08:30, when we were supposed to start.
We got a new supervisor, and my colleague did his usual. The new supervisor said to him later:
'I noticed that you were nearly late this morning.'
'No, I was on time. When I *am* late, then you can discipline me. But it will never happen.'
Talking to him one day, I discovered that he lived alone, five minutes walk from the office. His work clothes were laid out the night before, the kettle was filled with just enough water for his cup of tea, his cereal bowl and spoon were on the worktop. He'd been like most of us, rushing around like a Tasmanian Devil before work, and gradually refined this routine almost to the second.
I can be like that with leaving the house to get to the station - I know it takes exactly 7 minutes, so know exactly what time to leave. A friend did take me to task on it once, to which it was explained that trains leave at set times!

I suspect that some people simply rarely walk anywhere, so being used to going everywhere by car aren't used to the predictability of walking. Similar can be said for cycling, although not *quite* so predictable.
 

CC 72100

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I used to do that when I lived in Hamburg - leave when I saw the previous U-Bahn cross the bridge, arrive on the platform precisely as the next one rolled in.
I think not only are we creatures of habit, but we also have a strong natural desire to be as time efficient as possible. I genuinely don't believe that people who rush for trains have in all cases been delayed or misjudged it, I believe that a good deal of them just know exactly how long their journey takes, at precisely what time the train departs and so work back from that, not wasting more than 30 seconds in the process.

I certainly used to do it when commuting - although I did in my case do so leaving 20 minutes leeway on arrival at work which I used to buy my lunch for the day ahead.
 

Welly

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Although my workplace has flexible break times, one of my colleague takes his morning tea break at 10am sharp, lunch at 12 noon sharp and afternoon tea break 3pm sharp every day such that I joke about setting my watch to his break times! Once he started his lunch break at 12.10 and I said to him,"My universe collapsed!" :lol:
 

Ianno87

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It's interesting how many people will blindly do the same thing every day for years and years, assuming it's the most efficient thing. Blinding them to looking for an alternative, better way.

Tube strikes lead to interesting results - some people inadvertently find a better by force that they stick too!

More depressing are the car commuters who sit in the same traffic at the same junction every single day without ever thinking there might be a better way..
 

bramling

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It's interesting how many people will blindly do the same thing every day for years and years, assuming it's the most efficient thing. Blinding them to looking for an alternative, better way.

Tube strikes lead to interesting results - some people inadvertently find a better by force that they stick too!

More depressing are the car commuters who sit in the same traffic at the same junction every single day without ever thinking there might be a better way..
To be fair I couldn’t really hope to do much better than out the door at 1320, on the train at 1330, and at work at 1403. Then Thameslink Programme came and messed that up.
 

Class 172 Fan

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Although my workplace has flexible break times, one of my colleague takes his morning tea break at 10am sharp, lunch at 12 noon sharp and afternoon tea break 3pm sharp every day such that I joke about setting my watch to his break times! Once he started his lunch break at 12.10 and I said to him,"My universe collapsed!" :lol:
I'm like that.

In at 10:09, lunch at 12:30 - 13:30, post collection at 15:16, Frank any post at 16:01 for a 16:17 collection, leave at 18:46.

Whenever I travel on a turbo/electrostar train it is always the same seat. Carriage with DDA lavatory, seat next to the door controls nearest the corridor connection that has the lavatory.

On the PPMs on my local branch line it is always the bay seats nearest the cab. Never anywhere else, even though it is a 2.5 minute ride
 

TheNewNo2

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The main reason is maximisation of happiness.

On my commute, I pick specific train doors because I know that at my station those doors are adjacent to the exit. I have maximised the efficiency of my trip and thus my happiness.

When I order takeaway, I tend to order from the same few places. There are a few hundred places which will deliver to me, and that's way too many places - I can't try all of them a reasonable number of times and remember which I actually liked. I order from those few because I know that if I do, I will get a good meal. There's probably a better takeaway out there, but the cost of me finding it is a lot of dinners which I think are pretty rubbish.

Mathematically, it's been proven that if you need to find the best item from a list of N, and you have to decide, after each item, yes or no, then the optimal idea is to use the first N^0.5 items to establish a baseline, then say yes to the first item which exceeds that baseline.
 
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