Blog | Monday, November 24, 2008

Medical news of the obvious


With icy winds sweeping the Northeast, it's obvious that many of us would rather be relaxing on a warm, sunny beach. That must be why Aussie researchers decided to release a study confirming conventional wisdom about life at the shore. "Adults and adolescents are particularly at risk for intense, episodic sun exposure while on vacation or in 'high-risk' environments such as beaches," the authors wrote.

Despite that unsurprising conclusion, the study does eventually prove its own value, by establishing that people do not learn from even the most painfully obvious evidence. The researchers surveyed beachgoers and found that 70% of them went to the beach with an intention to tan, despite 40% reporting they had obtained a sunburn in the previous 48 hours. Think, people, think!

But, to get to that warm, sunny beach, you'll have to wait in a line at the airport, which a study now shows that people hate. Researchers in queing psychology are finding ways to keep us amused while waiting in line, or at least reduce the sudden violence of "queue rage." In short, amusement parks and comedy shows add interactive features to their lines to build up expectations, airports offer updates on wait times, banks switch to first-come-first-serve fairness, and Black Friday shoppers think the line is part of the group experience.