A 'pub' research facility with cameras and microphones will investigate the motivations behind why people drink in the ways they do by providing a laboratory setting for alcohol-related research.
With health problems caused by excessive drinking costing the NHS around £3 billion a year, 'Pub Lab' is designed for researchers to study volunteer participants in a controlled research setting.
The new pub laboratory gives researchers the opportunity to determine whether previous findings obtained from traditional lab-based research can be replicated in a more realistic environment, while the findings should prove invaluable in the creating of strategies which reduce actual or potential alcohol-related harm in drinkers.
"What we are trying to do is simulate, with a greater level of control, the environment in which people typically find themselves drinking", says Dr Tony Moss, head of psychology at LSBU.
"It is not the sort of research you can easily conduct in a real pub. There are too many other influences and a lack of experimental control," he explains. Research conducted in this facility will eventually be replicated in real-world settings, but using the facility to test hypotheses early on will help researchers to develop more rigorous studies in the future.
Lighting, music and pre-recorded background chatter played through hidden speakers can all be regulated to create different research environments.
"Much of our research 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," says Dr Moss.