The Psychology Of Parking: How You Park Says A Lot About You

in #life5 years ago

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I'm a very laidback person. In fact, I rarely get angry. But there is one thing that gets my dander up on a regular basis – people who take the time to back into parking spaces. Why do they do this? I've tried it myself and it just doesn't make sense to me. Why take all the extra time and concentration to back into a parking space? It takes less time to pull straight into a space and then back out when leaving than it does to back into the space to begin with.

Why do so many people do this? Some people claim they do it for safety, that it is easier to see if it’s clear before pulling out of the space. Others claim it allows for a quicker exit. Could it be for other reasons, such as vanity? Some people who are really good at something like to show off. Maybe that person sees a challenge in backing a massive four-door truck into the tightest space possible and getting some kind of self-gratification for pulling off the difficult maneuver.

This weird parking behavior may stem from how vehicles were made many years ago. I call it the “battery jump-start theory.” Many vehicles that were made prior to the mid 1950's used 6 volt batteries instead of the standard 12 volt battery used today. In cold weather those 6 volt batteries were notorious for failing to start an engine. Jumper cables were also much shorter back then and they only allowed enough room for a jump-start if the two vehicles were facing each other. Because of this, people began backing into parking spaces to allow for easy access to their engine and battery.

I call my other theory the “learned behavior theory.” In this theory, the behavior of backing into spaces may have been passed down from generation to generation. A young man or woman learning to drive in the early 1960's may remember seeing his or her father always backing into a parking space even though the 1960's standard 12 volt battery eliminated the need to continue doing this. This is the way this learned behavior is passed down. I wonder if there are support groups for these poor people.

And what about those people who sit in their vehicles and wait indefinitely for someone to pull out of a space that is two spaces closer than a space that is already available?

Is it really that important to park two spaces closer to the entrance of a building? Walking a few extra steps to the entrance of a store is usually good for most people. It's called “getting some exercise,” I can understand that some people need to park close to a store entrance if they have a medical problem that causes them to have trouble walking. But I've seen many people make a fool of themselves trying to park as close as possible to the store as if they may have a medical problem. And after they park and get out of their vehicles they walk just fine, sometimes briskly! Weird.

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And then there is the situation when we come out of stores, get in our vehicles, and just sit there for a minute to make a phone call or something. Then we hear a horn blowing behind us telling us to leave. Are we really supposed to immediately leave the space we are currently occupying so this very important person may be allowed to park in our space? Where does this sense of self-importance come from? Is this behavior associated with some kind of entitlement? When someone honks his horn at me to get me to pull out of my space, I immediately get disturbed and feel that I should now sit there until they leave to locate another parking space, or until we are both dead.

Have you ever had an interesting parking lot experience? Please feel free to share your experience in the comment section below.


The back-end of my car looks much better than the front(a few dents and scratches on the front) :), so I always just pull front-end first into the parking spot.
Also, when people "expect" me to leave a spot so they can use it, I usually find all kinds of reasons not to leave spot.

It depends on the parking lot whether I back into or pull into. If the parking lines are slanted, I pull into (obviously). Horizontal, I back into if I am able and have time. And backing up is not hard, just use your mirrors. I agree with you though on the last point.

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