Research can reveal some interesting things about us. For example, psychopaths tend to love working for erratic, overbearing bosses. People with more friends tend to outlive those with fewer friends. Cussing can make you stronger, at least for brief periods.

And evidently how you hang your toilet paper can reveal clues about your personality.

Dr. Gilda Carle surveyed 2,000 people and determined that:

  • Those who roll over (leaving the loose end away from the wall): Like being in charge, like organization and order, and are likely to overachieve. (Since I'm a roll over kinda guy, I like that last part a lot. Now if it were only true.) Interestingly, some roll overs feel so strongly about how toilet paper should be hung that they will flip a roll at a roll under's house. (How's that for needing to be in charge?)
  • Those who roll under (leaving the loose end close to the wall): Tend to be more relaxed, more dependable, and "seek relationships with strong foundations." (Wait. I like to think that last bit is true about me as well.) 
  • Those who don't have a preference:  Prefer to minimize conflict, appreciate flexibility, and enjoy placing themselves in new situations. (Hang on. I hate conflict, and love experiencing new things.)

As Dr. Carle says, "Assertive (roll over) people are more likely to be in leadership roles and to have a take-charge attitude. Those hanging the roll 'under' are more likely to be submissive. Submissive people tend to be more agreeable, flexible and empathetic."

Oddly enough, how you choose to hang your toilet paper rolls could also reveal clues about your earning power. 

One survey found that nearly three out of four people who make under $20,000 a year roll under, while nearly two out of three people who earn over $50,000 a year roll over.

Still: If you're the roll under type, switching sides to join the roll over team won't automatically increase your earning power. If Dr. Carle's findings are valid, her research still only shows that the way you hang your toilet paper correlates to your earning power; it's not causal.

Like the old saying about churches: Cities with more churches tend to have more alcoholics (or NBA fans or cat lovers or really, anything.) While that sounds like churches cause alcoholism, the simpler explanation is that cities with more churches also tend to have larger populations -- and that means the number (not the percentage, the number) of people in any subset will also be greater.

Therefore the number of churches and the number of alcoholics correlates, but is not causal.

The same is true for the finding that kids who eat breakfast perform better in school. While a hungry child is certainly less likely to be able to focus, most of the research studies kids who are part of school breakfast programs -- which means the majority of those kids come from underprivileged backgrounds and may not be getting enough to eat in general. Eating a meal at school makes a difference for children who are chronically hungry, and in this case that meal just happens to be breakfast.

But still: If you want to earn more -- or be more likely to earn a leadership position -- why not make sure you're a roll over? Superstitions can actually work. According to the authors of this study, "We hypothesize that the proposed performance benefits of superstition are produced by heightened levels of self-efficacy."

Which in non researcher-speak means that when you believe in yourself -- for whatever reason -- you are much more likely to do your best. Even if that confidence comes from carrying a lucky token. Or from following a simple ritual that helps you calm down and focus.

Or from switching up how you hang your toilet paper. 

Whatever it is, if you believe it can help... it can help.

As for me, I plan to start hanging rolls differently in different bathrooms throughout the house. I want to be a leader and I want to earn more... but I also want to be more relaxed, build relationships with strong foundations, and keep experiencing new things.

Why not? Can't hurt. 

Published on: Feb 7, 2018