Pounds 60,000 to watch Brits behave badly

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The Independent Online
ENGLISH persons may be renowned for going out in the midday sun but no one has bothered to ask them why. Now social scientists in Glasgow, with a pounds 60,000 grant from the Medical Research Council, are to spend three years rummaging in the subconscious baggage of the Briton abroad.

They will try to discover why pleasant young men from Manchester who are nice to their mothers turn into foul-mouthed lager louts in the space of a short-haul flight to Malaga. Or why others, for whom the thought of sex for money would normally be abhorrent, cheerfully tumble into bed in the brothels of Bangkok.

Some might think that a holidaymaker who gets horribly drunk on cheap alcohol is liable to behave badly anyway, and frankly, so what? However, Dr Simon Carter of the council's Medical Sociology Unit, Glasgow University, and his colleagues believe people would be safer if they were given a little health education.

'Very little research has been done on the health aspects of behaviour changes. People who get drunk and then drive a hire car or go swimming or engage in water sports which are unfamiliar are putting their health at risk, and maybe the health of others as well,' Dr Carter said. 'We want to know why people behave differently when not at home . . . People do know that exposing themselves to strong sunlight puts them at risk of melanoma but they still do it.'

The 'sun, sex, sand and sangria' research will start by looking at 100 tourists, from the family in Tuscany to the lads at Benidorm. Dr Carter said it could be that the essence of a good holiday is engaging in excessive behaviour as a means of suspending daily routines - and he may prove to be right.