Research suggests you can master rock-paper-scissors with this winning formula
In this file photo, Mark Cleland from Ireland, right, competes with Sebastian Gatica from Canada at the first international Rock, Paper, Scissors Championships in Beijing, China, August 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, May 2, 2014 10:51AM EDT
Tired of losing minor disputes with your friends? Wish you could avoid taking out the garbage, win shotgun for every road trip and avoid buying the next round of beers?
Well, new research from Zhejiang University in China suggests the old rock-paper-scissors showdown, best two out of three, is anything but a crapshoot. Rock-paper-scissors players show distinct strategic tendencies, just like in poker. And you can use that to your advantage.
The study says rock-paper-scissors players will make predictable choices in matches that last more than one round. Rock-paper-scissors winners tend to play the same thing that made them victorious, the report says. Losers move to the next item in the rock-paper-scissors series.
Researchers studied 360 competitors who played 300 rounds each at a massive rock-paper-scissors tournament. The tournament was for money, and the more players won, the more they earned. Over an extended number of rounds, researchers noticed a distinct “win-stay, lose-shift” pattern in how players reacted to their results.
So if you play rock and lose to paper, your instinct will be to go paper again. Don’t follow that instinct, because you’ll likely get a paper-paper standoff. Instead, break the cycle and go with scissors.
This flies in the face of traditional game theory’s Nash equilibrium, which suggests humans will – and should – randomly select from the three options for their best chance to win.
According to this new research, strategy can help you break the one-in-three odds.
Exploiting these predictable human tendencies can give you an edge over your opponent and set you on the path to rock-paper-scissors mastery.