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Behavioural Indicators of Motives for Barroom Aggression: Implications for Preventing Bar Violence

NCJ Number
Drug and Alcohol Review Volume: 30 Issue: 5 Dated: September 2011 Pages: 554-563
Date Published
September 2011
10 pages

This Canadian study identified behavioral indicators of apparent motives for aggression in licensed premises selling alcoholic beverages in Toronto, Canada, and implications of the findings for preventing violence in such premises are discussed.


The study identified "compliance-motivated" aggression in bars, which typically involves either making someone do something he/she does not want to do (e.g., forcing sexual contact) or stopping someone from doing something that he/she wants to do (e.g., bar staff enforcing rules with an unwilling patron or using physical force to stop a fight). "Grievance/justice" motives for aggression stem from the aggressor's feeling that he/she has been treated unjustly or with disrespect. The "identity" motive for aggression involves establishing an image of authority or superiority in interactions with others, enforced by a display of force. Aggression motivation stemming from "fun/excitement" occurs because aggression is a stimulating and exciting experience for the aggressor. This knowledge of motives for aggression in the barroom setting has implications for the management and policies of drinking establishments, including the structure of the physical and social environment, as well as hiring, training, and managing staff. Specific suggestions are offered for facilitating the prevention of the various motives for aggression. During 2000-2002, 1,334 observational visits were conducted by male-female pairs of trained observers between midnight and 3:00 am on Friday and Saturday nights in 118 large-capacity bars/clubs in Toronto, Canada. Researcher-observers visited the premises as patrons and conducted observations unobtrusively. Owners and staff were not informed of their presence. Qualitative and quantitative data were recorded for 1,057 incidents of aggression that involved 2,700 patrons and 806 staff. 4 tables and 45 references

Date Published: September 1, 2011