Toilet Interface


I snapped the picture above in the bathroom at my girlfriend’s office.

The sign admonishes those who, apparently, haven’t been flushing the toilet.

This led me to think–  In most places I go, guys flush the toilet, so why wouldn’t they do it here to the point that it was such a problem that a sign was considered as a way to rectify the nasty situation.

Two things occurred to me:

1– Perhaps people expect that the water goes from on top of the toilet and flows down and away.

2– Perhaps this button did not mimic this idea.

First of all, I have no clue how plumbing works and I’m pretty sure most people reading this blog don’t know either.  When I flush my toilet, however, I believe that the water goes down in to the sewer.

Usually above the toilet there is tank of water, and when I flush the water goes down and is replenished by the tank.

In this case, it should be noted that only the toilet bowl was present and no tank was to be seen.  This means that nothing was done to reenforce the idea that the water would be replenished or that

the water above the toilet would flow down in to the toilet bowl.

In many cases, we are unsure how something actually works.  Most people immediately understand that if they turn the key in their car, the engine will roar to life, but far fewer actually know the process

that takes place between the turn of the key and the start of the engine.

The actual process is irrelevant unless you are a mechanic.  Just as Sherlock Holmes famously noted that he had no room in his brain for trivial facts about the Earth revolving around the Sun, so too

do we find these actual processes irrelevant.  We build conceptions in our mind about how things work.  When interfaces reinforce these conceptions, it can help make things easier to use.  Here,

there was no reinforcement, so this could be a reason why few men chose to flush.

The interface here refers to the button.  Most toilets reinforce the idea that the water flows from top to bottom by forcing you to push downward.  In this case, the button (interface) forces you to push

inward.  This doesn’t fit with our conception of how a toilet works, so it is another possible reason why, perhaps, fewer people flushed the toilets at my girlfriend’s office.

One thought on “Toilet Interface

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