Men Find Using Public Urinals Stressful

public restrooms
Image REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

According to a new study from University of London, men find using a public urinal stressful. In fact men avoid all eye contact while using the urinal and any unwanted looks can lead to a fight.

The researchers were looking at the differences between men and women's insecurity and fear when it comes to using a public space like a public toilet. Researchers found that men, more than women, feared using these facilities.

For the study, researchers spied on men who were using public urinals in pubs and clubs. Men were later asked about their experiences about using the public restrooms.

"I was really surprised by how ­stressful public toilets can be for men," said Dr Sarah Moore, lead author of the study told the Daily Star. "Quite a few of our ­participants reported feeling so intimidated and nervous in certain bathrooms that they were ­physically unable to use the facilities."

Researchers found out that men follow certain etiquette while using the restrooms that includes not drawing attention, not making an eye contact and never squeezing in a line, unless all other places are taken. Not following these rules could lead to a fight.

According to the study report, men were far more insecure in using the restrooms in a public setting than women. "For women, public toilets are often ­convivial places, offering up the ­possibility to make friends and socialise. But for males, the most significant problem was the co-presence of other men and the possibility of violence if a breach of toilet ­etiquette occurred," the report said.

Researchers say that by re-designing the urinals and providing more private space, such insecurities can be lowered.

Architect Andy Ince, who designs bars for the JD Wetherspoon pub chain, says that replacing urinals with cubicles isn't a good option either because long queues at the restrooms will mean more eye-contact that can lead to more fights. 

The study dealt with people following a code of conduct while using public restrooms. There are, however, many people who just can't urinate while being watched (or even when they think they are being watched). They suffer from a condition called paruresis.

According to International Paruresis Association, seven percent of the public, or 21 million people, may suffer from this social anxiety disorder. Women are just as likely to suffer from this condition as men.

The study is published in British Journal of Criminology.

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