-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Jan. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Throwing your arms up
in the air, raising your head, flashing a smile: your body language
when you win at sports is an instinctive reaction meant to indicate
dominance over your opponent, a new study finds.
These triumphal displays are made by athletes at the moment they
determine they are victorious and include actions such as raising
the arms above the shoulders, pushing the chest out, tilting the
head back and smiling.
The researchers identified these responses in winners of Olympic
and Paralympic judo matches, and they were seen in athletes from
all cultural backgrounds, and even among blind athletes, according
to the findings published online Jan. 10 in the journal
Motivation and Emotion.
However, this type of behavior is strongest in athletes whose
cultures emphasize status, the study authors added.
The findings suggest that such responses are natural and based
on an evolutionary need to establish order and hierarchy in
society, according to study co-author David Matsumoto, a psychology
professor at San Francisco State University.
"It is a very quick, immediate, universal expression that is produced by many different people, in many cultures, immediately after winning their combat," Matsumoto said in a university news release. "Many animals seem to have a dominant threat display that involves making their body look larger."
Displaying dominance is used in many situations to establish
status and hierarchy within a group so that it operates
efficiently, he explained.
"If you're in a meeting, the person sitting in the 'power chair' is going to be more erect and look taller, they're going to use a strong voice, they're going to use hand gestures that signify dominance," Matsumoto said. "If there's conflict, the person who yells the most or is the most stern will be seen as the leader. It establishes the hierarchy in that context."
The American Psychological Association explains how
sports psychologistscan benefit athletes.
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