It turns out, one of our worst nightmares is a reality. There really is a “dirtiest” public restroom stall, and it should be avoided at all costs, unless you really have to go.
If you see three stalls available in a public restroom, do not pick door number two. DO NOT PICK THAT DOOR! You do not want to see what’s behind it, because what’s waiting inside is pretty gross. And that’s according to science, so you know it’s true.
Statistics reveal the middle stall of any restroom is hands-down the dirtiest, because that seems to be the stall everyone else on the planet chooses. It’s a phenomenon psychologists call “centrality preference.”
According to Reader’s Digest:
While the centrality preference can apply to a range of choices, it goes for public bathrooms, too. A 1995 paper published in the journal Psychological Science examined the restroom habits of beachgoers in coastal California. After teaming up with a local custodian, psychologist Nicholas Christenfeld tracked how often the toilet paper was changed in each of four stalls for 10 weeks. His results: While 60 percent of finished rolls came from the middle stalls, only 40 percent came from those at the ends. That indicates that far more people used the stalls in the middle than random probability might anticipate.
And just when you thought using one of the end stalls was a cleaner answer, that’s not necessarily true. One of the reasons people may be avoiding those stalls is because they were dirty in the first place, or broken. Did you ever think of that? Whatever the case, the hover method is still your best friend when it comes to peeing in a public space.