New Study Examines Why You Suck at Rock-Paper-Scissors

Scientists in China have been looking at the winning strategies behind a simple game of rock-paper-scissors. They've just discovered that you might be losing so much because of a deeply embedded human principle to "stay" if you're winning and "shift" if you're losing.

At a rock-paper-scissors tournament at Zhejiang University, researchers put a theory to the test that suggests losers would do better at the game if, instead of completely randomizing their choices (as is encouraged by the Nash game theory), players anticipated their opponents' conditioned followup moves.

For example:

When players won a round, they tended to repeat their winning rock, paper or scissors more often than would be expected at random (one in three).

Losers, on the other hand, tended to switch to a different action. And they did so in order of the name of the game - moving from rock, to paper, to scissors.

After losing with a rock, for example, a player was more likely to play paper in the next round than the "one in three" rule would predict.

Anticipating these movements, instead of randomizing, would better enable losers to dominate in subsequent rounds. But don't tell that to your aggressive younger cousin.

[Image via AP]