There is a famous anecdote about a multistoried office building in New York in which occupants complained that the elevator was very slow. After installing mirrors in the lobby, the complaints disappeared.

Did this anecdote happen and does installing mirrors decrease the perceived waiting time for elevators, thus decreasing the amount of complaints?

  • I imagine another good reason for putting big mirrors in elevators is because it makes them feel bigger.
    – Benjol
    Feb 1, 2016 at 13:43

1 Answer 1

  1. For the first part of the question, yes the original paper by Sasser et al. (1979) attributes it to a well known hotel group without the mention of the name with reference to several papers such as this, this and this.

The natural tendency of people to check their personal appearance substantially reduced complaints, although the actual wait for the elevators was unchanged.

  1. Installing mirrors did not reduce or increase the actual waiting time for elevators but the complaints of the customers were reduced since they were using that idle time to check their personal appearance.

For the second part of the question, practical methods used in controlling waiting time for customers in restaurants is by keeping them busy through the use of mirrors, music and providing menu information.

  • In your first paragraph, you give three citations, but they are all just quoting the one paper: Sasser et al. (1979). It seems likely it is the origin of the story, but we can't see if that paper provide references, cites it as a story the authors can personally attest to, or are just repeating an urban legend, so this does not appear to answer the question.
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 30, 2016 at 10:02
  • Sasser et al. (1979) just mention it as a well known hotel group and what about the second part of the answer which is related to whether installing mirrors decrease the perceived waiting time? Feb 1, 2016 at 7:23
  • 1
    Great. Quote them directly, and suggest it is the most likely original source of the anecdote, as it is cited by many others.
    – Oddthinking
    Feb 1, 2016 at 8:44
  • 1
    Sure and will try to add quotes to attribute it to the original author to avoid plagiarism as noted by you! Feb 1, 2016 at 8:50

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