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Abstract

Research on how to manage the online waiting experience has begun to emerge but has primarily focused on the use of distracting cues for online wait management (e.g., text and images that distract the user from the wait). The use of temporal information in waiting webpages (e.g., text and images that convey the duration of the wait) has received little attention from the information systems literature, and we have limited understanding about how the two types of cues (temporal information and distractors) affect wait time estimation. We address this gap by developing a theoretical model of how these cues affect the waiting experience and perceived waiting time. We tested the model with a 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 controlled lab experiment and 1025 participants using progress bar treatments that included temporal information (spatial and text description of the wait time duration) and distractors (progress bar animation and accelerated filling of the progress bar) with both short and long wait conditions. We found that the two types of cues reduced perceived waiting time through different nomological paths. Temporal cues reduced perceived uncertainty about the wait, while distractor cues directed attention away from the wait, increasing perceived enjoyment and wait time distortion. Further, the enhanced waiting experience reduced the perceived waiting time. Further, these cues were effective in managing the online waiting experience with both short and long waits.

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