My New Year's resolution was to be less angry all the time and to not let little annoyances get to me. As it turns out, no one else in Bangkok seemed inclined to make a resolution to stop doing things that piss me off, so here I am again, overworking my middle finger and spending all my time planning how I'm going to exact revenge on the co-worker that keeps commenting on my weight (probably by rigging the printer so there's a paper jam every time she needs to use it, muahaha).
Of course, a change in the calendar year won't suddenly make Bangkokians cease all their bothersome behaviour. BUT I'M NOT JUST GOING TO SIT HERE AND COMPLAIN ABOUT IT USING ALL CAPS TO CONVEY MY EXASPERATION BECAUSE, WELL, THAT WOULD BE ANNOYING TOO. Instead, I've decided to do some research (for once) and figure out why people are so goddamn irritating. Surprisingly, science actually has answers to explain how some annoying actions come about. So to all the people I've refrained from punching today, just know that science saved your ass, and I now understand why...
Groups move slower than a three-legged elephant
Imagine this: You're rushing to the hospital to deliver some super-important vaccine that could save the lives of all the sick children. But, bam, your mission is thwarted by the group of tourists casually strolling in front of you, and they won't get out of your way. What's wrong with them? Don't they care about the children?!
Well, people don't purposely walk slowly to make you seethe while you trail behind them. In the excitingly titled "The Walking Behaviour of Pedestrian Social Groups and Its Impact on Crowd Dynamics" (2010), researchers observed how social groups operate in busy crowds. Turns out that as crowds get denser, people in groups unconsciously form into "V" or "U" shapes so they can continue communicating. However, this slows down overall pedestrian traffic because the people in the middle take up more space in the crowd.
But if you don't have this problem because you're always being chauffeured around, then surely you've dealt with...
Drivers and their insane road rage
Whether it's the bus driver who hates your face and wants to run you over, or the hi-so brat who shows his aggression on the streets because he never got daddy's love, Bangkokian motorists are not a nice bunch.
However a study at Colorado State University has an interesting explanation for this: Drivers with many bumper stickers on their car may be more prone to road rage. The lovingly titled "Territorial Markings as a Predictor of Driver Aggression and Road Rage" (2008) suggests that people who personalise their vehicles - whether with bumper stickers, window decals, or personalised licence plates - tend to feel they're in a private space (i.e. their "territory") and forget they're supposed to exhibit some decency in a shared zone. Does that ring a bell for all the cars here that have stuffed animals in the window, religious symbols on the dashboard, and licence plates with "lucky numbers"?
But if you opt for public transportation, then surely you've dealt with...
People who don't understand the concept of a "line"
Many disregard the social codes of a queue. From the BTS to hailing a taxi, d*ckwads brazenly waltz in front of others. It's one situation so frustrating that you could be forgiven for sucker-punching the offender, right?
Well, line-cutting could actually be more efficient in certain contexts, according to the titillatingly titled "Cutting in Line: Social Norms in Queues" (2011). The study proposes that "equilibrium" can be achieved if the cutter has legitimate reasons to cut a line, the others in line accept that everyone is in a rush sometimes, and most importantly the person jumping the queue proves that they're not lying to get ahead.
While these findings may only apply to certain situations, it's good to be reminded sometimes that people aren't total assholes. But if they are, perhaps now we can start finding scientific cures for it.
About the author
- Writer: Sumati Sivasiamphai
Position: Guru Editor