the social psychology of human primates in elevators

the study of the the social psychology of human primates in elevators has a relatively long history, including contributions from a 1962 Candid Camera episode titled “Face the Rear” which showed how relatively easy it is to induce conformity to unusual “social norms” in the tight confines of an elevator which is just one way we act when the priority is “…to act in a way that cannot be construed as threatening, odd or in any way ambiguous…” which is pretty much what we’d expect in dressed up primates given how non-human primates react in enclosed spaces, “So, if you are a rhesus macaque and find yourself trapped in a small cage with another macaque, you know what to do: bare your teeth and start grooming. If you are a human and find yourself riding in an elevator with a stranger, I recommend you do the same: smile and make polite conversation.”. and now a more recent ethnographic study of elevator user experience finds we organize ourselves according to a clear social order with senior men towards the back, younger men in the middle, and woman in the front. no results were presented on the interactions with the “close door” button, but i assume it was a placebo. ( ethnography study via kottke ).

One thought on “the social psychology of human primates in elevators”

  1. How relevant, insightful and hilarious! Snowdeal I really like your post, and thanks for the reference to Candid Camera (1962). We really are a funny bunch of monkeys :-D.

    All the best,

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