Though many consider rock-paper-scissors game a children’s thing, researchers from the University of Sussex has revealed it is a great tool for learning the foolishness of man after suffering losses, and how man becomes very irrational immediately things go wrong.
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Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study is titled “Negative outcomes evoke cyclic irrational decisions in Rock, Paper, Scissors” game.
“This could have more serious implications in higher-stake scenarios where people are competing to outmaneuver one another – in economics or politics,” said Dr. Ben Dyson, lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sussex. “These irrational decisions are driven by an emotional reaction to a negative outcome and leaves people vulnerable to a smart opponent.”
Dr. Dyson further disclosed that since emotion distracts from the quality of human thoughts, but risks might be avoided where people learn to separate emotions from outcomes.
Against the background that no single strategy guarantees success in the rock-paper-scissors game, humans were made to play against a computer which adopts the rational strategy. In the actual game, each of the three items carries equal status and the best strategy to follow is to pick each one an equal number of times, any other strategy is considered irrational.
While playing the actual game, people adopt the “win-stay, lose-shift” strategy, meaning that people repeated a winning action if a move leads to a winning, but changed tactics if they lose a hand.
The researchers believe winning, losing, or drawing would change things if consequences or stakes were attached to these positions. “If we bring money into the equation, we expect that the irrational behavior would be accentuated. There is some evidence to back this up,” Dr. Dyson. “The phenomenon of ‘tilting’ in Poker sees players make similarly ‘bad’ decisions on subsequent rounds following monetary loss.”
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