Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rock-paper-scissors players are natural copycats

Date:
July 20, 2011
Source:
University College London
Summary:
Players of the game rock paper scissors subconsciously copy each other's hand shapes, significantly increasing the chance of the game ending in a draw, according to new research.

Players of the game rock paper scissors subconsciously copy each other's hand shapes, significantly increasing the chance of the game ending in a draw, according to new research.
Credit: snaptitude / Fotolia

Players of the game rock paper scissors subconsciously copy each other's hand shapes, significantly increasing the chance of the game ending in a draw, according to new research.

A study published July 20 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B shows that even when players lose out by drawing a game, they can't help themselves from copying the hand gestures of their opponent.

In an experiment researchers recruited 45 participants to play rock-paper-scissors in one of two conditions. In the first condition, both players were blindfolded. In the second, one player was blindfolded and the other was not. Players who won the most games within a 60 game match received a financial bonus, so although players may have preferred to draw rather than lose, the best outcome could only happen through avoiding draws.

In the blind-blind condition the number of games ending in a draw was exactly as chance predicts, i.e. a third. However, in the blind-sighted matches the number of games ending in draws was significantly higher than a third, suggesting that the sighted player was copying the gestures of the blindfolded one -- even when it was not in their interests to do so.

Richard Cook, lead author of the paper from the UCL Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Science, said: "From the moment we're born, we are frequently exposed to situations where performing an action accurately predicts seeing the same action, or vice versa. Parents seemingly can't help but imitate the facial expressions of their newborns -- smiling, sticking their tongues out and so on."

He added: "This experience causes the impulse to imitate to become so ingrained it is often subconscious, for example when one person starts tapping their foot in a waiting room it is not uncommon for the whole room to start tapping their feet without thinking."

In order for automatic imitation to influence responses in rock-paper-scissors the sight of an action needs to excite the motor program for making that action almost instantaneously. However, there is good evidence to believe this is possible.

Automatic imitation is thought to be mediated by the human 'mirror neuron system'; a network of brain regions predominantly responsible for action execution, but which also respond to the passive observation of actions. This system is known to respond immediately to the sight of action, giving rise to an imitative bias almost instantaneously.

Richard Cook said: "It is well established that imitative responses are executed faster than non-imitative responses on controlled experimental tasks where reaction times average between 200-400 milliseconds. However, the present finding confirms that imitation is often 'automatic' in the sense of being hard to stop."

The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Cook, G. Bird, G. Lunser, S. Huck, C. Heyes. Automatic imitation in a strategic context: players of rock-paper-scissors imitate opponents' gestures. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1024

Cite This Page:

University College London. "Rock-paper-scissors players are natural copycats." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110720085818.htm>.
University College London. (2011, July 20). Rock-paper-scissors players are natural copycats. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110720085818.htm
University College London. "Rock-paper-scissors players are natural copycats." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110720085818.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Microsoft Goes For Familiarity Over Novelty In Windows 10

Microsoft Goes For Familiarity Over Novelty In Windows 10

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) At a special event in San Francisco, Microsoft introduced its latest operating system, Windows 10, which combines key features from earlier versions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) Apple fans in France discover the latest toy, the Apple Watch. The watch comes in two sizes and an array of interchangeable, fashionable wrist straps. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple Releases 'Shellshock' Fix Despite Few Affected Users

Apple Releases 'Shellshock' Fix Despite Few Affected Users

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Apple released a security fix for the "Shellshock" vulnerability Monday, though it says only "advanced UNIX users" of OS X need it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins