Weekly Grooves

Reclining Airline Seats – Whose Space Is It Anyway?

Feb. 22, 2020

How do you deal with someone reclining their airline seat while you’re trying to read? And how do you deal with someone behind you who doesn’t want you to decline your seat?  This very small encounter can create heated exchanges, as seen in the video links below.

The resolution could be very simple when viewed through a behavioral lens. The first question is about ownership: who owns the space – the person wanting to recline or the person wanting to read?

In this week’s episode, we apply the behavioral lens to a situation that need not be so difficult if the drink and snack cart is handy.

© 2020 Weekly Grooves


The video that sparked the conversation: https://www.today.com/video/viral-video-shows-airline-passenger-punching-woman-s-reclined-seat-78666309643

The Endowment Effect and other biases: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XHpBr0VFcaT8wIUpr-9zMIb79dFMgOVFRxIZRybiftI/edit#

How to Resolve Seat Disputes: Use Behavioral Economics. https://evonomics.com/resolve-fights-reclining-airplane-seats-use-behavioral-economics/

41% of Fliers Think You’re Rude: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/airplane-etiquette-recline-seat/

Don’t Want Me to Recline My Airline Seat? You Can Pay Me: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/28/upshot/dont-want-me-to-recline-my-airline-seat-you-can-pay-me.html

The Knee Defender: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knee_Defender

Tale of Two Markets: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1111/j.0956-7976.2004.00757.x

Coase Theory: https://www.intelligenteconomist.com/the-coase-theorem/

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan

Kurt Nelson, PhD: @WhatMotivates

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