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Superficial or subconscious reasonings that govern behaviors

  1. Aug 3, 2003 #1
    I live in a city with heavy traffic and often times at a stop light I see the cars in front of me inch forward a bit with no place to go because the light has not changed, other times a whole bunch of cars inch up because someone else inched up, sometimes people leave a few car lengths in front of them so they can perform the inching game and often the people behind them feel compelled to inch up with them.
    This seems like a perfectly illogical behavior to me, there doesn't seem to be any good reason to play the inching game and since I don't play it never made much sense to me. About 1 in 10 drivers are initiators of the inching game and of those there seems to be a correlation to being generally inconsiderate or poor drivers in such things as weaving, driving too fast, not using signals, or generally being inattentive. I also feel compelled to inch forward as they inch forward and sometimes reflexively inch forward because they did and I wasn't paying attention and sometimes I slowly back up when others inch forward which really must look strange, but my point is that I don't think they are doing it consciously I think that it is a behavior that they picked up when others were doing this to them and they made a decision at some point to send out what they were receiving or irritate others that irritated them and so they now do it whithout thinking about it, although underneath it is giving them little increments of a false sense of control over other people and in some way pleasurable and giving a general feeling of being in control while driving that they may have become unaware of.
    There could be a lot of reasons, sometimes we get tired of holding the break down, sometimes they tell me people are trying to anticipate the light changing green but I think that is more often just a rationalization of people who play the inching game and don't want to admit that they like taking control over others in this way. My other point is that if they are unaware of it there are likely many things we do that we are unaware of and are not as obviously illogical behaviors that give false senses of control or senses of control that really are not very productive perhaps even counter productive. Along these speculative lines of faulty reasoings that lead to less or counter productive behavior that lead to senses of control I wonder what other things might people do...Does one get pleasure from being in control of another however slight or wrong or right it may be? Don't some people take the practice of controlling others too far into realms of not caring if it harms others in some way? Could the basic rule of this be that at some point we learned that to control things feels good, but we also learned from experience that others are just like us and trying to control each other leads to bad things for both and that we are better off to respect each other and to respect those inanimate things that in trying to take control over can adversely affect us.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2003 #2
    HA! Those are the same people who stand about 2 inches behind you in line and make a comment if you don't crawl up the butt of the person in front of you. I think it is a control issue, like you said. Logically, I can get no further than the person in front of me,and being 1 inch or 20 feet behind them doesn't make any difference, does it?
  4. Aug 3, 2003 #3
    That's the strangest thing, in most cases it makes no difference but if one choice not to inch forward in some kind of line then some people seem to get upset or at least give you an oddball look.
  5. Aug 3, 2003 #4
    And I think it is the same subconscious grasp for illusory control that drives people to watch a pot of water boil, or recheck a window every few minutes wehen they are waiting for someone to arrive. All the checking won't make the water heat any quicker, or make the person show up sooner, but it allows us to pretend to have control.
  6. Aug 3, 2003 #5
    It's called ANTICIPATION!

    I've noticed this even more in the left turn lane (specifically with myself), when I realize there's not quite enough time for everyone to get through -- or, there's not enough room for everyone to get in the lane -- and start inching forward in anticipation of the light changing, in order to make as smooth a transition as possible through the light (i.e., quick and speedy getaway), without having a bunch of "pissed off" people backed up behind me, you know, in case I missed the light? :wink:

    Of course it's like Zero said, I can't get any further than the person in front of me, and typically only do it if there's a big enough gap between me and the car ahead of me. In which case I'll just pull ahead after he's "inched foward" a few times.
  7. Aug 4, 2003 #6


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    Maybe we're overanalyzing things here? I'm not a driver myself, but I nontheless am more inclined to think that this 'inching forward' (which I have seen many many times while in a car) is more to do with anxiety or impatience than control. Sure it may be illogical, but christ, who does everything in a rigidly logical manner? We're human beings, not Mr. Spok. :wink:

    Come to think of it... isn't it illogical to twiddle your thumbs when you're waiting for something to happen? Well now, twiddling your thumbs won't make the event happen any faster. But it is some sort of substitute for action that preoccupies the mind and makes things at least seem to happen faster. Similarly, inching forward at a light or moving tightly while waiting on a line (which I myself am not too inclined to do, being a generally laid back person) don't make things move any faster. But do they make things seem to move faster? If they do, then it really is a quite logical action to take, when you think about it. Subjective duration of time follows a mindset, not a clock. "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity." - Albert Einstein.
  8. Aug 4, 2003 #7
    People get depressed when they feel that things are out of their control, this is one of the symptoms or factors of depression, the opposite could be true.
  9. Aug 4, 2003 #8


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    I'm not saying your idea isn't feasible... sure it is. I just think you're maybe looking a little too deep and finding something that, at least as I intuit, isn't really there, at least not to the extent yuo are implying. I could be wrong, of course, but I could also invoke that dreaded occam's razor if I were so inclined. :smile:
  10. Aug 4, 2003 #9
    HAH! my favorite driver has to be the guy who purposely speeds up ahead of me, sometimes doing 60 or 70 on a surface street just so he can pass me up, then cut me off, only to jam on his breaks at the red light. Now tell me what time saving feature is that? you risk killing us both soley so you can get ONE FRIGGIN CAR LENGTH AHEAD. You beat me to the red light. Gratz, you've just saved .03 seconds. do that a few dozen times and you may even shave a whole second off your day! People as dumb as that should be stabbed with thier own car keys. Or better yet, forced to drive no faster than 35 for a period of one year, no matter where they go. And freeways are forbidden. And they could install a speed sensor in his car so that for every time he goes more than 5mph over his designated 35, another 6 months gets added to the sentence, and if he gets 3, his license is revoked. That would make him think twice about it.

    And LA drivers really piss me off. I'm used to driving in a big city, but Jesus H.... I swear these people are total morons- I think they got their drivers licenses out of cereal box. They think just because thier vehichle cost over 30k that they can cut me off? I swear someday an idiot in a mercedes will cut me off, and you'll see a huge grin on my face as I plow right through his pricey little tin can. Then I'll proceed to have my attorney sue him into bankruptcy for reckless endangerment and about everything I can find an excuse for.

    Can you tell I hate driving in LA?
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2003
  11. Aug 4, 2003 #10
    Anyone ever sat for a long time
    at an intersection waiting for
    a stop sign to change?
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