Elevators Make Monkeys of Us

The mounting rate of escalator injuries may spook you into taking an elevator instead. Even if a glitch doesn’t leave you trapped alone in that metal box for 40 hours, you’re still captive, for a short while, in a unique laboratory for human psychology. Throw another passenger or two into the mix, and things get really interesting. Dario Maestripieri, a primate researcher we’ve written about before, has more on what our elevator behavior can teach us about our primate origins. [%comments]


guess he never heard the song 'love in an elevator'


There are other factors involved, such as practicality.

It just practical to face forward in an elevator -- that's where the current floor display is located. Ride an elevator facing the back and you're either going to miss your floor, or be constantly looking over your shoulder to see when you get to your floor.


Reminds me of an clip from an old Candid Camera. The gag is that an elevator is crowded with accomplices, and when the door opens the mark waiting for the elevator to get to his/her floor sees everyone facing to the left, to the right, or even backward (rather than facing the door). In the clip the various marks step in, conform to what the others are doing and face that same way.


This post demonstrates exactly what's wrong with many biological accounts of behavior. They take something that is specific to certain cultures (always including ours) and invent a just-so-story to explain why it's "hardwired." All they would have to do to see how pointless this exercise is would be to travel to one of the many places in the world where people behave totally differently in elevators. In Turkey, for instance, everyone stands with their back to the wall in elevators and looks at one another.