Putting on your game face is important during a match but a new study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science has found that some people tend to keep their game faces on even after the game has already been won. Researchers believe that winning may actually make people more aggressive toward their defeated opponents.

Collaborating with three French scholars, Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, conducted three studies to determine the real score.

In the first study, researchers recruited 103 American students who were then made to compete against an imaginary opponent in a task that involved looking at patterns of simple shapes on a screen and determining whether a dollar sign was on them or not. After 80 tests, researchers told half of the participants that they had won and half that they had lost.

To gauge just how aggressive the winners would be compared to the losers, researchers moved on to the next phase. Participants were then told that they would have to press a button as many times as they could in 25 trials to beat their imaginary opponents. The losers would be punished with a loud blast through their headphones while the winners get to decide how long the blast would be. Results then revealed that the winners of the first round gave the losers longer blasts comapared to the losers of the first task.

Despite these results, researchers couldn't help but wonder if the losers in the first task were simply afraid that the winners would once again win the next round and blast them thoroughly.

To verify these results, researchers conducted two other studies with a few differences to rule out possible contributing factors, but they both returned results that suggested that winners are generally more aggressive. However, researchers have yet to find out whether this behavior is simply limited toward their opponents or if it’s also directed toward other people.

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(Photo by Kris Kesiak Photography via Flickr Creative Commons)

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