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Scientists reveal how to win rock, paper, scissors

Researchers in China have discovered a way of winning at rock, paper, scissors. Picture: Neil Hanna

Researchers in China have discovered a way of winning at rock, paper, scissors. Picture: Neil Hanna

THE trick to winning the seemingly random game of rock, paper, scissors (or scissors, paper, stone depending on your preference) has been cracked by researchers in China.

A new study has shown that people playing the game fall into patterns.

Zhejiang University, in the city of Hangzhou, tasked 360 students to play 300 rounds of the game.

Overall, contestants chose each action - rock, paper or scissors - around one-third of the time, but their choices were not recorded as random.

The study suggests that people who won the first round were far more likely to stick with the same action, while those who lost selected the next action in a clockwise direction, i.e. rock to paper; paper to scissors and scissors to rock.

Researchers concluded that: “Whether conditional response is a basic decision-making mechanism of the human brain or just a consequence of more fundamental neural mechanisms is a challenging question for future studies.”

So now you know that the next time you’re trying to settle whose round it is or who pays the bill with a game of rock, paper, scissors - all you have to do is change your actions in a clockwise fashion.

• The full 21-page document charting the research can be read here.

 

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