The Corner

Science In Action

From the Guardian:

Where do people go? Though it’s a simple question, scholars disagree about where people choose to go to the toilet. What specifically concerns these scholars is a small aspect of the larger puzzle. When you give someone a choice of several, say four, toilet stalls arranged all in a row, which stall do people choose to use?In the past 40 years, there have been two major experimental studies on this topic. The results of one directly contradict those of the other. The first, in Antarctica, discovered that people prefer the stalls at the ends. The other, in California, found people prefer the middle stalls.

The two experiments were done under greatly differing conditions, so there is plenty of room for argument about what it all means.

Dr H Hachigusa, a physiologist, spent a winter at Japan’s Syowa research station in Antarctica. For reasons that are now obscure, he recorded the amount of faeces that accumulated and froze under each of the base’s four adjoining outdoor toilet stalls. Hachigusa used those measurements to estimate the “frequency of utilisation” of each seat. As Hachigusa watched the data mount up, he saw evidence that the end stalls enjoyed considerably higher usage than the middle stalls. Hachigusa attributed this to what he called the psychological influence of corner preference.*

* Emphasis mine, for obvious reasons. 

Oh yes, there’s more.


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