There's a fine line between celebrating a victory and rubbing it in your opponent's face. And while it might seem that Xbox Live and PlayStation Network are filled with the latter, a new scientific study shows that aggressive behavior after a victory really isn't all that uncommon.
Researchers at Ohio State University found that winners tend to act more aggressively towards losers than the other way around.
"It seems that people have a tendency to stomp down on those they have defeated, to really rub it in," said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.
The study, which is slated to appear in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal, initially tested 103 American college students. Each was told they were competing against someone else (though they weren't) in a series of pattern-recognition tasks. After 80 questions, half were told they had won, while the rest were told they lost.
From there, they were submitted to a second test, where they were challenged to press a button as fast as they could (again against an imaginary opponent). Whoever was slower would receive a blast of noise in their headphones -- and the winner would decide how long and how loud the blast would be.
Long story short? Winners were jackasses. The group that thought of themselves as winners blasted their imaginary partners longer and louder than the losers.
Two follow-up studies with French students saw similar results.
Researchers say they next plan to see whether that aggression is aimed just at the people they defeat or at the world at large. It'll be a while before those results come in, but in the meantime, Bushman has advice for conquered foes: "Losers need to watch out."
- Ohio State University
- Brad Bushman
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