SPORTS

Dominance Is The First Emotion A Victorious Athlete Feels, Study Finds

01/13/2014 09:50 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014
SF State

When an athlete is victorious over his or her opponent, the first reaction he or she experiences is one of dominance, indicated by triumphant body language, according to a new study.

Researchers from San Francisco State University examined Olympic and Paralympic judo athletes, which showed that both kinds of athletes displayed this demonstration of dominance after an athletic accomplishment. Such demonstrations of dominance include raising the arms up, tilting the head back with a smile, and puffing out the chest.

"It is a very quick, immediate, universal expression that is produced by many different people, in many cultures, immediately after winning their combat," study researcher David Matsumoto, a professor of psychology at the university, said in a statement. "Many animals seem to have a dominant threat display that involves making their body look larger."

Because the victorious poses were observed even in people from varying cultures, as well as Paralympic athletes who were blind, researchers noted that this behavior is likely innate.

The study, published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, included athletes from 14 to 17 countries in judo medal matches from the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games and 2004 Paralympic Games. Researchers analyzed the bodily reaction of the athletes immediately after a match that were considered "behavioral reactions to the result" of the match.

A previous study from the same researchers showed that some cultures are more likely to display this dominance demonstration than others, particularly those with higher "power distance" (measurement of how much power is encouraged or discouraged in a country). (The U.S. and U.K. are considered to be in the middle of the power distance spectrum, while Malaysia and Slovakia are high on the spectrum and Finland and Israel are low on the spectrum.)

"Cultures that are more status oriented have individuals who produce these behaviors more than individuals who come from cultures that are more egalitarian," Matsumoto said.

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