A trip to the gents is a "stressful" experience as blokes try
hard to adhere to unwritten toilet etiquette and avoid
fights, a new study shows.
Academics from the University of London played the "mystery
customer" at urinals in pubs, clubs, railway stations,
shopping centres and museums as part of research, the results
of which have been published in the British Journal of
"I was really surprised by how stressful public toilets can
be for men," lead author Sarah Moore said in comments
published by Britain's Daily Star newspaper.
"Quite a few of our participants reported feeling so
intimidated and nervous in certain bathrooms that they were
physically unable to use the facilities."
The research highlighted three broad rules which male
toilet-goers generally adhere to: never catch someone else's
eye; never draw attention to yourself; and, never squeeze in
next to another man unless it is the only space available.
"The rules of urinal etiquette, well understood by all male
interviewees, were seen as a way of structuring a stressful
experience and managing what many felt to be a potentially
dangerous space and process," Dr Moore said.
"(Men) were concerned about being looked at by other men and
being mistaken for voyeurs."
The report concluded that replacing urinals with cubicles was
not the answer, as creating queues for a stall would cause
more problems that it aimed to prevent.