Thesis just started. Or restarted. Whichever.
I want to study anxiety in public spaces, particularly as it relates to waiting.
When I was young, my parents and family knew me as a relaxed, easy-going, easily adaptable person, in contrast to my sister, Jody, who was anxious and needed to have everything done in a particular way. A case in point: our little sister, Devon, was frequently hospitalized when we were children. It was incredibly stressful for little kids, but while it sent Jody into a tailspin of childhood depression, I coped easily through physical activity, talking with my parents, and working on projects and school. As we’ve grown into adults though, our personalities have gone through a bit of a switch. Now, I’m known as the one who needs to have things done in a certain way or in a certain amount of time, and, depending on the situation, I can become agitated quickly if my expectations aren’t met.
By studying my own actions, reactions, and feelings, I’ve come to realize that my agitation is a sign of overall anxiety in public space. I can now also recognize what will raise that anxiety or lower it, and I have a hunch that these are universal across a large segment of people.
I would like my thesis to, in some way, alleviate, circumvent, or eliminate the stress brought on by waiting.
Over the course of the summer, I want to further explore the nature of waiting, its psychological affects, and the biggest gains in the area (perhaps reading up on Disney, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, government agencies, and movie theaters). How can you make people feel like they’re making progress through a line? What drives people to cut lines, leave them, or switch lanes in a traffic jam? Is there science in any of this (for instance, the physics of waves apply to traffic on highways; as humans, do we innately draw that parallel? If so, how does that change our behavior?) How do you keep people engaged and prevent them from becoming enraged? Do people need to be engaged, or just distracted? Is it ever better to keep people waiting, instead of processed as fast as possible? Are there long term effects from the anxiety of waiting? Can it affect personality? These are questions I’d like to explore, though I don’t know that I’ll need to answer them all.
Over the summer, I’d also like to narrow down an area of focus. I’m particularly interested in public transportation and am currently working on a project that addresses waiting in bars. I believe these two areas are ripe for my thesis area, but I’m loathe to zero in just yet.
In addition to addressing the anxiety of waiting, I am actively considering the idea of entrepreneurialism as a facet of whatever thesis project I work on. Regardless of whether my thesis evolves into a marketable product or service, I am intrigued by the notion of building a start-up from scratch, how you create a product that people want and is worth investing in, and how you might get investment. As I develop my thesis project, I’d like to consider it a product, and examine it under that lens.