British pubs have come under the scrutiny of psychologists at Nottingham University in a plan to teach licensees how to stop drunken brawls.
Psychologist Phil Leather said violence was a serious problem for licensees, about 8 to 12 per cent of whom were facing persistent aggression from customers.
"We have been trying to discover whether you can engineer the social environment of the pub to prevent negative emotions," Dr Leather said.
"Simple grievances, often at closing time, can escalate quickly with alcohol inflaming the problem. But an understanding of some basic psychological interpersonal skills can make such difficulties manageable."
Academic debate on whether violence has a genetic, personality or social basis is a fertile research ground, with pubs an ideal environment. "Coming up behind a customer and tapping him on the shoulder in a tense situation is likely to draw an aggressive response but licensees might not realise this," Dr Leather said.
Nottingham University has got Pounds 40,000 a year from Allied Domecq Retailing, which runs 4,000 pubs, clubs and restaurants to look at the problems landlords face. An incident reporting system is now in place recording reports of thousands of brawls from landlords.