London South Bank University has spent £20,000 on installing a pub in a room on campus.
Run by the psychology department, the bar is an experiment to research how and why people drink, and the effects of alcohol on behaviour.
Dr Tony Moss, head of the Psychology Department at South Bank and behind the experiment, said: “What we are trying to do is simulate, with a greater deal of control, the environment in which people find themselves drinking.
“This is somewhere in between being able to do research in the real world bar – where we have very little control over what is going on – and in a lab cubicle, which is nothing like the way people are drinking in the real world”.
Visitors to the pub are served by psychology students, and their behaviour is recorded by hidden cameras and microphones.
Part of the experiment will involve monitoring how much attention customers pay to alcohol awareness posters while they are drinking.
To make participants in the experiments believe they are a real pub, the room has been made as authentic as possible. The lighting and pre-recorded background noise is carefully controlled, and the glasses are even rubbed with ethanol to recreate the right smell.
Unlike a traditional pub, all the drinks are free. However, there is also no guarantee whether a customer will be given a real alcoholic drink or a placebo replacement.
Dr Moss said: “A lot of the work we are doing involves giving people non-alcoholic drinks, but leading them to believe they contain alcohol.
“A lot of the early work we have been doing isn’t so much interested in the effects of alcohol once people are intoxicated but trying to understand factors that motivate people to drink in certain ways”.
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