Social hierarchy in elevators  APR 09 2013

Human behavior in elevators is endlessly fascinating and so is this tidbit about social organization in elevators from an ethnographic study of elevator users.

Yet, moving back to the interaction with elevator interior design elements, it was noticed that interaction went hand-in-hand with social organisation. As a result of 30 elevator journeys (15 in each building) a clear social order could be seen regarding where people positioned themselves inside the elevators and how they interacted with the design features, such as mirrors and monitors. More senior men in particular seemed to direct themselves towards the back of the elevator cabins. In front of them were younger men, and in front of them were women of all ages. Men watched the monitors, looked in the side mirrors (in one building) to see themselves, and in the door mirrors (of the other building) to also watch others. Women would watch the monitors and avoid eye contact with other users (unless in conversation) and the mirrors. It was only when the women travelled with other women, and just a few at that, that women elevator users would utilise the mirrors. One interviewee even mentioned that she only looked in the mirrors when there was no one else in the elevator.

(via @triciawang)

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