Crowds: The Line-Up

Why do people stand in line when their chances of getting to see a hit movie or play are obviously hopeless?

At Manhattan's Metropolitan Opera House, legions of trusting souls regularly queue up hours before the box office opens to sell its small ration of tickets for a popular performance. The fans who stay up all night waiting to buy World Series tickets almost always exceed the modest supply.

Apparently, a particular kind of gambler's delusion is involved in queueing.

Leon Mann, a social psychologist at Harvard, and K. F. Taylor of the University of Melbourne, report in the Jour nal of...

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