The 'Rule Of Six' Controls How Long We'll Stand In A Queue And It's Freaking Us Out

The number six has a role to play in the way we queue, and now we can't get it out of our heads.

The Rule Of Six governs why people queue | ELLE UK

Have you ever found yourself wandering past a queue outside a high street shop and decided to join on the off chance you might get something free or meet a celebrity?

Or, stood in a line of people at the post office to return a shopping order, only to realise there was a returns box at the entrance and you've just wasted the majority of your lunch break?

It's a well-known fact that us Brits love a queue, but according to new academic research, there's a reason why we're so inclined to wait in line.


It's all got to the with the 'rule of six'.


According to a new study by researchers at University College London, people will wait for an average of six minutes in a queue before giving up in annoyance, reports the Telegraph.

It also found that we're less likely to join a queue that has more than six people in it.

Freaked out yet? Well, it's about to get even more weird.


The research – based on a review of academic literature on different types of everyday queuing including at banks and supermarkets – found that people are more likely to give up queuing out of frustration when the number of people behind them has grown to six people or more.

What is more, the report revealed that we need a minimum of six inches around us in personal space in a queue, otherwise it'll cause increased levels of stress and anxiety.


Professor Adrian Furnham, who co-authored the report, said: 'In a time when Britain is changing rapidly, and the ways in which we queue are shifting, the psychology behind British queuing is more important than ever – it a one of the keys to unlocking British culture.'

From that, we surmise he means: 'British people are mental.'


The report, which was conducted by Privilege Home Insurance, also found a customer is willing to wait in a queue for approximately 5 minutes 54 seconds. Anything more and their satisfaction levels could drop dramatically to approximately 55 per cent.

It also revealed some major faux pas when it comes to queuing in Britain such as queue jumping, making conversation and accepting to go ahead of someone in the queue.

So, next time you're in line at the supermarket, beware of the rule of six – it controls us all.

*The Twilight Zone music fades out*

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