Impatience leads to compliance

Put a time constraint on a task and then offer to help users through it.


  • Ticketmaster only gives customers a limited amount of time to make a purchase. This is ostensibly to prevent individuals from “holding” tickets for a show without actually paying for them. It has the additional effect of creating an environment where customers are forced to act quickly in order to secure the tickets they want, especially when Ticketmaster has a virtual monopoly on ticket sales for many venues. The time constraint induces a kind of panic. Fear of losing out on the tickets leads people to try and complete the process as quickly as possible. They are therefore less likely to pay attention to details, and more likely to do whatever it takes to get through the process unhindered.


Fear of losing out disproportionately influences people’s value judgments. Forcing people to act fast (impatience) also changes the way they make decisions. They tend to become more conservative, preferring less risky options and paying more attention to negative information.

How to use impatience

  • Place a time constraint on a task in order to push people towards less-risky options and to accept the default selections.
  • Add a task-completion aid that does not require analytical thinking. It should list simple rules for people to follow in order to complete the task.
  • Offer to bypass the time-constrained task by providing an automated output with the default settings. You may even be able to charge more for this “convenience.”