There was a time earlier this year when I noticed the amount of space devoted to toilet paper in our local supermarket. The toilet paper display had caught my eye in the past but the absurdity of it really struck me on that day. The sight impacted me enough that I wrote a post about it! (Only in America?)
Another toilet paper issue has surfaced in my life. While I was aware of the debate over whether toilet paper should hang over or under the roll, I didn’t realize how much energy people had about it.
I personally side with the under camp, but began to wonder what other people thought. When we were planning some “getting to know you” exercises for a recent therapy activity, the staff decided to place a fun question among the serious ones. We asked the participants if they were unders or overs and had them divide into two groups. I was surprised to discover that in a group of 15 people 12 were overs and 3 were unders. I had no idea that the distribution would be so skewed or that I would be part of the minority.
After a friend sent me the picture I will place at the end of this post, I decided to delve further into the topic. (Sometimes it is fun to investigate a topic that has no particular importance!)
Wikipedia devotes 5445 words to the issue and that number doesn’t include the 132 footnotes, 119 references and 13 recommendations for further reading.
I found these factors mentioned in various sources:
- Over keeps the flap further away from the wall, which may contain germs.
- Over is the way that hotels do it so it must be right. (Over allows hotel staff to neatly fold back the flap.)
- Over makes the pattern on the toilet paper look right.
- Over makes it easier to tear off the number of tiles you want
- Over makes it easier to find the flap.
- The patent on toilet paper displays it in the over position.
- Under makes it less likely it will unravel in an RV or during an earthquake
- Under keeps children and pets from unrolling it.
- Under is neater since the flap can be hidden.
- Under creates less kinetic friction
An engineering study found that 70% of the people they studied are overs and 30% are unders. When looking at psychological factors, the researchers found overs to be overachievers who stay organized and take charge, and unders to be laid back, artistic and dependable. The study reported that 50% of people pay attention to the orientation of toilet paper, and that 20% have changed the orientation when they thought it was wrong. The investigators estimated that the average American spends half an hour a year trying to find the end of the toilet paper roll and that endeavor is said to create a $300 million loss in productivity.
I believe I now know enough about toilet paper orientation, so to end this post I will share the picture I mentioned above. My friend found this toilet paper dispenser in a “pizza joint” in Kenmore, Washington!