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Victorious athletes display dominance over opponents

Washington, Sat, 11 Jan 2014 ANI

Washington, Jan 11 (ANI): A new study has found that when athletes emerge victorious, their initial and instinctive reaction is one that displays dominance over his or her opponent.

Such body language, known as a "dominance threat display" and labeled as "triumph" in other studies, was observed in winners of Olympic and Paralympic judo matches.

It appears to be innate and stems from an evolutionary need to establish order and hierarchy in society, San Francisco State University Professor of Psychology David Matsumoto, who co-authored the study with Hyisung Hwang, an adjunct faculty member in psychology at SF State, said.

In a separate study published in November, Hwang and Matsumoto also found that an athlete's culture affects the intensity with which he or she displays this body language.

"Cultures that are more status oriented have individuals who produce these behaviors more than individuals who come from cultures that are more egalitarian," Matsumoto said.

In Matsumoto and Hwang's previous research, observers labeled the body language of athletes seen in victorious poses as "triumph" and established triumph as potentially being a separate expression from pride, which requires more cognitive thinking and reflection.

The new study, however, is the first to ask whether expressions of triumph are the immediate reaction of an athlete following victory.

To answer that question, Hwang and Matsumoto looked at the first body motion made by an athlete upon learning he or she was victorious, determined whether that action was among those considered to constitute "triumph," and rated the intensity of the action on a five-point scale.

Actions considered triumphant included raising the arms above the shoulders, pushing the chest out, tilting the head back and smiling.

They were observed in winning athletes from all cultural backgrounds and even in blind Paralympic athletes, suggesting the behavior is biologically innate.

The study is published in the journal Motivation and Emotion. (ANI)


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