Athletes’ Victory Stances Are All About Dominance, Not Pride

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Have you been watching the NBA Finals? The series is now 2-1 in favor of the Cleveland Cavaliers over the Golden State Warriors.

You may notice while watching basketball and many other sporting events that every time an athlete triumphs over another, his or her first instinct is to do a victory dance.

In a study conducted by researchers at San Francisco State University, it turns out that athletes’ first reaction after victory is to strut. Or at least the modern version of it, which includes throwing their hands up in the air, puffing out their chest and pulling their head back, all while wearing an enormous grin of satisfaction on their faces.

Those are contemporary signs of dominance, says the study’s author, David Matsumoto, a professor of psychology at the university who began studying the phenomenon after noticing it during his years as the U.S. Olympic coach for judo. While some have labeled the behavior as signs of pride, Matsumoto believes otherwise.

“What I saw everyday in training and in competition had nothing to do with pride,” he says. “It’s all about just having clobbered somebody. It’s a sign or signal given to other members of the community who are watching.”

 Read more on this fascinating topic in our past blog post!

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