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Characteristics of Violent Bars and Bar Patrons

Brian M. Quigley, Kenneth E. Leonard, R. Lorraine Collins

Objective: The present analysis is an attempt to examine the characteristics of bars in which violence occurs while accounting for the personalities of the clientele that frequent the bar. It is proposed that an explanation of why violence occurs at certain bars requires examining the characteristics of the bars, the personalities of the clientele, and how these two types of variables act together in order to give rise to aggressive behavior. Method: We conducted interviews with frequent bar patrons (n = 327), assessing participants on a number of individual differences related to aggression and drinking behavior as well as on characteristics of the usual bar that they attend. Bars were categorized into violent bars (n = 256) or nonviolent bars (n = 71) based on participant responses. Results: Participantsí age, alcohol dependence and anger expression differentiated those who frequented violent bars from those who frequented nonviolent bars. The relationship of these individual differences to bar type was mediated by a number of characteristics of the bar itself, including noise, temperature, the presence of bouncers, the gender of the workers, the presence of billiards and illegal activities in the bar. Conclusions: The results indicate that individuals having certain personality characteristics are attracted to bar environments that promote antinormative behaviors such as violence. However, it seems to be the characteristics of the bars that are the strongest predictors of violence. (J. Stud. Alcohol 64: 765-772, 2003)