- games people play May 2
You never know when someone might challenge you to a game of rock-paper-scissors. Something as important as riding shotgun or not having to pick up a check might be on the line, so you need to have more than just luck on your side.
Scientists at Zhejiang University in China have just published the results of the first large-scale study of the classic game, The Washington Post reports, and they discovered that most players actually follow a pattern. The researchers found that while you can't predict whether your opponent will start off by choosing rock, paper, or scissors, you can assume that if they win, in the second round they will likely use the same play. If they lost, they will probably switch "in a clockwise direction," so rock becomes paper, paper turns into scissors, and scissors morph into rock.
It appears as though players follow a cyclical pattern, which The Washington Post's Caitlin Dewey says "means sneaky players can use 'conditional response,' a reaction to a specific stimulus, in order to optimize results." The researchers are now more fascinated than ever with rock-paper-scissors. "Whether conditional response is a basic decision-making mechanism of the human brain or just a consequence of more fundamental neural mechanisms is a challenging question for future studies," they said.- - Catherine Garcia
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Here comes the Pentagon's newest space plane
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Extreme haunted houses: Inside Halloween's most terrifying new trend
- Let us now praise Billy Joel
- The simple trick to making better decisions in every aspect of life
- How foreign aid screwed up Liberia's ability to fight Ebola
- This week I learned the surprisingly dark origins of the Nobel Prize, and more
Subscribe to the Week