Some people say that game theorists are afraid to tackle the tough questions.   I wonder what those people are saying now?

The Social Norm of Leaving the Toilet Seat Down: A Game Theoretic Analysis

By Hammad Siddiqi

The issue of whether the toilet seat should be left up or down after use seemingly generates a lot of passion among the parties concerned, however, scientific inquiries into the matter are almost non-existent…. In this paper, we internalize the cost of yelling and model the conflict as a non-cooperative game between two species, males and females.We find that the social norm of leaving the toilet seat down is inefficient. However, to our dismay, we also find that the social norm of always leaving the toilet seat down after use is not only a Nash equilibrium in pure strategies but is also trembling-hand perfect. So, we can complain all we like, but this norm is not likely to go away.

Of course, that’s hardly the last word on the subject.  Indeed, this piece with a starkly different conclusion found its way into Economic Inquiry.

By Jay Pil Choi

This paper develops an economic analysis of the toilet seat etiquette. I investigate whether there is any efficiency justification for the presumption that men should leave the toilet seat down after use. I find that the down rule is inefficient unless there is a large asymmetry in the inconvenience costs of shifting the position of the toilet seat across genders. I show that the selfish or the status quo rule that leaves the toilet seat in the position used dominates the down rule in a wide range of parameter spaces including the case where the inconvenience costs are the same.

I guess there’s nothing left to do but wait for the econometric analysis.