Parking Spaces and Human Behavior

Watching the effects of an individual’s actions in the spaces he shares with others is an amusing thing. Now you wouldn’t expect your actions changed the behavior of 20 people working on the same building as you do, would you? Well neither did I.

The parking lot in my workplace’s building is comprised of a set of spaces organized in 2 cars per column, but there aren’t enough cars to fill all spaces, so only 1 space per column is usually used, except in the days that the garage is crowded. People used to park in the back space, leaving the front row free for others to drive around the place and occasionally park behind them if necessary.

So this one person, new to the parking lot, comes in and parks his car, in a column of his own, but parking in the front row. The first day, he’s the only one to do that. Second day, 3 cars are already parked into the front row. In a month, ALL cars in the garage are parked into the front row!

Now when asked why did he park into the front row, he said he’s trying to avoid that someone parks behind his car, because it’s too big for him to be able to move to the adjacent column while going out of the garage. Also because a workmate of his used to park his car in front of him, but always left work way later than he did.

I’m still trying to understand what happened. Did his actions cause everyone to be afraid of people parking behind them? Were they in fear they were “loosing” some sort of advantage by not doing it? I guess us humans are defensive creatures by nature, and also need to be smarter than our peers for some odd reason. I’d be glad to hear your thoughts on this, or other stories of individual actions that changed a group behavior.

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