Time Pressure and a Diner's Decision Making
By Michael Barbera CEO, Barbera Solutions | July 2017
Time pressure is a significant driver of human decision-making. Time pressure is both artificial and natural. Time pressure is popular with airlines, hotels and sporting tickets. When purchasing an airline ticket it is likely that you have encountered a message that stated, "time remaining to purchase", or "seats reserved for", followed by a clock counting down. Ticketing agencies such as Ticketmaster and online retailer eBay are known for their time pressure sales methods. The high time pressure used by airlines, hotels and ticketing agencies are overt and intentional; however, not all time pressure is overt or intentional.
Imagine you're driving to a friend's house for an important announcement. You must be at your destination within the next 20-minutes or you will miss the announcement, but you're stuck in traffic and your GPS is telling you that you will arrive in approximately 35-minutes. This high time pressure scenario is not intentional and you may not realize that you're stress level has increased because of time. The decisions you choose following the increased stress will likely be a result of the time pressure and will likely not correlate with your normal decision-making process.
Imagine you're at a restaurant with friends. You're reading the menu and the waiter walks up to the table and asks, "are we ready to order?". Simultaneously every person at the table answers yes and you say no; however, you tell your friends to order and by the time they are done ordering you'll have made a choice. You placed yourself into a time pressure situation and the choice you make for your meal is a direct result of the cognitively taxing time pressure.
Time pressure likely changes human choice and preference, and time-pressure is likely to change the amount of money consumers spend, and the quantity of items purchased and/or consumed.
When an individual orders a meal on an electronic device, such as a tablet, the individual will likely generate a higher median cost per order. The increased price is likely due to the extended options where customers have the option to increase sizes and add ingredients. The majority of customers are unlikely to ask another human during the ordering process for every available option that is in the kitchen. Nor is it likely that the employee is aware of every option.
Humans generally order less quantities and spend less per purchase when ordering from another person, such as an employee of the restaurant. Cognitively, humans fear being stereotyped for their actions. A method of reducing the stereotype is to order less quantities and spend less money; however, time pressure could change the cognitive process because time pressure is likely to override all logical and rational choices.