When you walk in the door to our waiting room, my office is the closest one. My door is straight ahead. When you leave my office, the door out is, therefore, also straight ahead. It has an illuminated sign above it reading "EXIT".
Off to the left, leaving my office, there's also an open doorway, leading to a long hallway with more offices.
Strangely, an astounding percentage of my clients leave my office and immediately turn left down the dead-end hallway, instead of proceeding about three yards straight ahead to the very obvious door they came in through. Believe it or not, I would say 80% of people do this on their first visit. And a good 30-40% do it even after they've been here many times. People head down the wrong hall, stop, turn around, look startled and/or confused, then seem to question their senses. Quite routinely now I say to people, "Oh, don't worry about it-- almost everyone does that."
As a shrink, I can't help but wonder what this is about. My theories so far (none of them very plausible):
1) People are innately so lazy that, faced with the choice of a closed door going where they need to go, or an open door going where they don't, they will take the open door;
2) People in our culture are so indoctrinated towards clockwise motion that, faced with the choice of going straight or turning left, they turn left. (Possibly this is opposite in the southern hemisphere?)
3) There is a local magnetic disturbance in the vicinity of my office building which causes people to lose their sense of direction.
I am open to other explanations...