Psychology, probability: a parking game

Tutoring probability, you can imagine so many everyday examples. The tutor shares one.

This morning I went to pick up some groceries.

I like to load groceries through the rear door of the van. However, I also like to drive forward from a parking space, rather than backing up.

I arrived at the supermarket early, so there were many free parking spaces two deep: you could park in the first one or glide through to the second one, which faces an exit lane.

So here are the risks of the game:

  1. Park in the first row, forwards: you have definite access to your rear hatch but you will have to back out if someone parks in front of you.
  2. Park in the second row, forwards: you can definitely drive out forwards, but someone may park behind you, blocking your rear hatch.
  3. Park too close and the relevant possibility above (1 or 2) is much more likely; park further away and it takes longer to walk in and return (and I was, as always, in a hurry).

I opted for a fairly close spot and parked in the second row for guaranteed forward exit. However, I left two empty slots closer to the store. Would someone park behind me?

When I emerged, no one had parked behind me. However, someone had parked right beside me in the same manner as I, one space nearer the store. Obviously, they are willing to move a little closer to the edge.

Did someone park behind them? Who knows:) It’s interesting that they seem to calculate the situation very similarly to how I do:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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