January 29, 2007

Leaving The Toilet Seat Down: A Game Theoretical Analysis

Am I just blindly internalizing an inefficient social norm as a way to mitigate my own costs? I mean, forget the seat; doesn't the toilet just look better with the lid down, the way it was designed?

Siddiqi, H. (2006): The social norm of leaving the toilet seat down: A game theoretic analysis. [mpra via tmn]


Speaking as a woman with an M.S. in Operations Research, his analysis has a fundamental flaw. The only cost he assigns to "seat up" is the woman yelling at the man. He does not associate a cost with the woman slipping through the open seat as her butt hits the water. That is the true cost of the seat up. Yelling is secondary to that or in anticipation of that.

[reading through his recap of the tiny incremental advances from prior science, it's obvious that progress is being hampered by the absence of women in the field. -ed.]


Yes, it looks better (and cleaner) with the seat down. That's why I do it, except the one time in 10 years when I didn't, which was in the birthing suite's bathroom while my wife was in labor. Don't do that.

It's true, the throne looks better with the seat down, and not like a gaping hole, ready to swallow you.

There has never been a problem in our household with The Man putting the seat down. (men have to sit down half the time, anyway).

We also keep it closed for the cats to jump up on the counter more easily.

I always hear this "fall through the hole when it's left up" argument from you seat down camp. Does that really happen to you? Despite being a man, I do occasionally need to sit, and I have never once failed to check that the seat was down before doing so. Do you also forget to open doors before attempting to walk through them? :)

Scott, you are correct...that "fall through the hole" argument is indeed a myth. It simply does not happen. At least not to me...

Scott, it does happen. When you're pregnant and peeing sixteen thousand times a day, it is very possible that you just forget to check the seat one of those sixteen thousand times. But then, I also walk into doors.

And, if the "fall through hole" myth were true, the corollary would also be true:

Leave the seat AND lid down, and the hapless female will proceed to sit and urinate all over the exterior of the toilet.

Will anyone admit to that? If it happened, whose fault would it be? Seems to me that perpetuating this "leave the seat up and your wife has every right to throttle you when her tushy gets wet" myth allows you no defense if your husband were to aim squarely at the center of the toilet and OOPSIES! the lid was down...


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