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Psychologists claim athletes victory behavior indicates societal norms

A study of the body language of athletes after achieving a victory that included athletes from around the world indicates the level of how status oriented a given athlete’s culture is according to research conducted by Professor of Psychology David Matsumoto and Hyisung Hwang, an adjunct faculty member in psychology, both from San Francisco State University that was published in the Jan. 10, 2014, edition of the journal Motivation and Emotion.

An Olympic judo athlete shows a dominance threat display following victory.
SF State

The researchers noted victorious poses, called a triumph position, were consistent across countries and similar displays were demonstrated by blind athletes as well as sighted athletes. The position of victorious dominance is indicated by raising the arms above the shoulders, pushing the chest out, tilting the head back, and smiling.

The behavior is demonstrated regardless of culture. Male and female athletes express the same level of display depending on their culture.

The researchers conclude that this behavior is a learned relic of evolutionary adaptation that served to establish order and hierarchy in human society.

The researchers also noted that athletes that came from cultures that emphasize power, status, and hierarchical differences among groups performed more elaborate and longer lasting victory displays than athlete from cultures that fostered higher notions of equality within society.

The researchers propose that similar victory and status elements may be active in the majority of other life activities in every culture including work, marriage, and family.

One possibly odd note from the research is that the United States and Iran scored about the same in a rank of the display of power and status behavior as demonstrated by athletes.

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