Part of the convenience of living in the modern world is that you press a button, and then something happens.
We’ve got so many examples of that technology ranging from the humble calculator to the telephone, to coffee makers and vending machines, to photocopy machines and everything else in between. We’ve gotten used to the idea of pushing buttons that some of us may actually panic in case they do not work.
Recently, however, we’ve learned that the close door button on elevators actually do nothing at all.
The National Elevator Industry trade group recently revealed that close door buttons on all US elevators have long been non-functional.
According to the executive director of the National Elevator Industry trade group, the close door button has long been disabled on all elevators in the United States since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act back in 1990. The law requires that elevator doors remain open long enough so that anyone using walking aids or a wheelchair can safely get inside before it closes.
So yes, pressing that button is pretty useless. Still, many of us who have already learned about this may still continue pressing it out of habit.
The elevator’s close door button is considered a “placebo button” which Wikipedia defines as “a push-button with apparent functionality that actually has no effect when pressed.” The side added, “Such buttons… are commonly placed in situations where it would have once been useful to have such a button but the system now proceeds automatically.”
American psychologists say, however, that perceived control is important for people because it “diminishes stress and promotes well being.”
Meanwhile, in an interview with the New York Times, John Kounios, a professor of psychology at Philadelphia’s Drexel University, considered the non-functional close door button as a harmless “white lie” which gives people an illusion of control. He explained:
“A perceived lack of control is associated with depression, so perhaps this is mildly therapeutic.”
Another psychology professor, Ellen J. Langer of Harvard University, also said something similar:
“Perceived control is very important. It diminishes stress and promotes well being.”
Considering that most elevators only have a lifespan of about 25 years, it is highly possible that very few elevators still have functioning close door buttons.
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