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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 Criminology.
"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.