If you go on a big night out in any major city, it’s likely you’ll witness a brawl or two. But what could be causing this late-night violence? Queuing, according to scientists.
Researchers analysed data on the amount of people in Cardiff city centre at certain times during the day and assault-related attendances at a nearby hospital.
And they found a breakdown in the unwritten etiquette of queuing may be one of the reasons behind increases in violence at night.
Queuing is a social phenomenon and people waiting in line have expectations about how others should behave, such as not skipping to the front, the team said.
If you go on a big night out in any major city, it’s likely you’ll witness a brawl or two. But what could be causing this late-night violence? Queuing, according to scientists
A graph showing the relationship between footfall and assault related injuries in Cardiff city centre
People also get more stressed the longer they believe they have been waiting.
The researchers, from Cardiff University, used a mathematical model to help predict what would happen in a variety of night-time scenarios, and adjusted it to take account of various other factors such as weather, bank holidays and whether there were rugby matches on.
They found a ‘significant relationship’ between the number of people in the city centre and the number of assaults recorded in A&E.
But a doubling in footfall did not double the number of assaults, suggesting this was not the sole cause of increased violence.
Rather, the link between footfall and assaults was more consistent when they applied their queuing model.
They also showed that by reducing queuing time, stress and related violence dropped too.
Writing in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the team said: ‘Violence in night-time environments might be attributable to a failure to abide by the social requirements of queueing.
‘If this relationship is confirmed in additional research, there will be a need to encourage proper queue discipline or better manage queues in the night-time environment to reduce violence.’
In an article published on The Conversation, the researchers said an act – such as skipping to the front of the queue – can ‘violate’ the social expectations people have of one another.
‘When a violation of those unwritten rules occurs, people queueing in an orderly fashion will seek to defend the queue’s order, with the most vocal complaints stemming from those who are closest to where the person jumps into the line,’ they said.
‘Even those ahead of the intrusion may also react to the injustice.’
They added that when the likes of pubs or taxi services are understaffed, it increases the competition between people queueing.
HACKS TO BEAT THE QUEUES
Desmos, a U.S. organisation that promotes maths, technology and data, has spent months analysing supermarket data last year.
Their research revealed the best ways to beat the queues.
– Choose to be served by female cashiers: Experts suggest that female cashiers are faster
– Stand in queues that feed into several tills: These queues will get through customers quicker
– Opt for checkouts on the left: Most shoppers are right-handed and so choose to queue on the right
– Queue behind shoppers with a trolley: It can be quicker to stand behind one person with a trolley full of items instead of several shoppers with a basket as the face-to-face interaction time is quicker