The worst thing that can ever happen to someone who pays for their own hotel room is being left stranded on the streets for several days, the latest research suggests.
The study, by an international team of researchers, suggests that when people are stuck in limbo between the hotel and the hostel, it can make for a more challenging experience than a room that they can rent outright.
In a series of experiments, researchers at Columbia University and MIT asked 2,000 people in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Sweden about their experiences when they had to wait for a hotel room.
They were told that they could book their own room, but if they did, they would be reimbursed for the cost of the room.
“The room they were renting was their own, so if they had problems, they could blame it on them,” Dr. Stefan Röhlmann, a professor of economics at Columbia, told the AP.
“But if the hostels or the hotels didn’t work, the blame for that fell on the hostellers and the hotel, not on the person.”
A hotel that had a bad reputation was seen as more likely to get people stranded than one that was well known to the participants.
A hostel that had poor reputation was also more likely than a hotel with a good reputation to be stranded.
“When you are stranded, it’s very difficult to make any sense of it,” said Dr. Robert M. Cauce, a Columbia University professor of human development who was not involved in the study.
“It’s not that people aren’t willing to do things, but when they do it’s often done with little thought about the consequences.”
Dr. RöHLMANN and his colleagues had expected that people who paid for their rooms would be more willing to help their hosts in times of trouble.
But when the team asked people to compare the cost for a room with the cost they had already paid for, they found that when the cost was lower, people were more likely still to help.
“It seems that there are situations where it’s more advantageous to do what you’re told, even if you have no idea what’s going on, and help people when they are stranded,” Dr, Röhrmann said.
“In some cases, this could be more important than getting a room,” he added.
In another experiment, the researchers also found that the risk of getting stranded decreased significantly when people were told they were free to move on.
“If you are not sure that you will get a hotel or hostel stay, it makes sense to stay with your own hosts,” Dr Cauge said.
“In the absence of a guarantee that you’ll get a place, it would be very difficult for someone to help.”
The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.