HomeFYIWhy do elevators have mirrors? This quora answer is everything you need to know

Why do elevators have mirrors? This quora answer is everything you need to know

Elevator mirror

We all have sometime or the other used elevators in our life but have we ever paused to give it a thought that why mirrors are installed in elevators? Well, it cannot be just for fun as there must be some psychology behind the engineers deciding to install mirrors in elevators.

If we start thinking about it, there would be many reasons crossing our minds. But every one of us wants to know the actual one, right?

One such Quora user, curious to know the answer, posted a question on the website that why elevators are installed in elevators. There were many reasons that came out but there was one particular answer from another Quora user and that is all you need to read.


Here is the answer:

The purpose is functional, but it’s psychological rather than mechanical.

“In the early industrial age, buildings began to spring up all over the east coast. Many of these new buildings were taller than anything ever built before and most had elevators. As buildings got taller and taller, more people began to use elevators. Elevators in those days were pretty darn slow. People were constantly complaining about how slow the elevators were.

Elevator companies were challenged with this problem and came up with the typical problem statement elevators move too slow. So they went off to design elevators that were faster and safer, but at the time it was very expensive to do so. Several companies went off and running to build a safer and faster elevator, and one elevator company proposed a different problem statement. They may have had a different name for the approach, but they were using the fundamentals of the best problem statement tool. One engineer said,

“I think our elevator speeds are just fine, people are crazy.”

Then an engineer proposed that they work on a different problem statement. He proposed that the problem was people ‘think’ elevators move to slow. He inserted two words ‘people think’ into the problem statement which allowed the design team to approach the problem from a completely different angle and thus a whole new set of ideas.

Instead of concentrating on larger motors, slicker pulley designs and such, they concentrated on the passenger in the elevator.

When they looked at the problem from this angle, the ideas started to snowball. Is it really too slow? Why do they think it is slow? How can we distract them? How can we make it more comfortable? Are customers scared of heights?

This lead to some first-hand customer research. They found that a lot of people thought the elevators were a lot slower than they actually were.

They also discovered that people had an exaggerated sense of time because they had nothing to do but stare at the wall and think about the safety of the elevator being suspended in the air, and preoccupied with the fear of falling.

There was the need for room and additional equipment of any sort, so they brainstormed on that. This leads to the idea of mirrors in elevators so people would think about something else besides danger. Was their hair combed properly? Did her makeup look okay?

By installing mirrors in the elevators, people became distracted and were no longer preoccupied with the fear of falling. On a follow-up survey, customers commented how much faster the new elevators were even though the speed was exactly the same. The elevator design itself had not changed at all.”

The human brain is crazy and this example of the engineers coming up with a brilliant solution to their complex problem proves it. Never in our wildest dreams, we could have guessed this reason and it is really surprising that so much of thought and research has been done before the installation of mirrors in elevators.

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