Everything We Know About Human Bathroom Behavior

The anthropologist Horace Miner once wrote about the Nacirema, a strange North American people he said all perform the exact same set of rituals in communal “shrine rooms,” but pretend to be doing it in almost total secret.

He of course was making fun of Americans in public bathrooms, and the common practices that go on inside that are actually pretty weird when you think about them. Why, for example, is talking generally frowned upon? Why do those two-roll dispensers in stalls always run out at the same time? Why do guys spit in urinals?

To shed light on these mysteries, Science of Us combed through mountains of research on bathroom behavior and uncovered some revealing findings, from the most popular kinds of wall graffiti, to the gender dynamics of pee-formance anxiety, to important insights on the great under-over toilet-paper debate. Consider it the perfect reading material for when nature calls.

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