advertisement
27 July 2012

Watch the body language of Olympians

As Olympians take to the world stage in London, watch the body language of the gold medalists for clues to their feelings of triumph and pride.

0

As Olympians take to the world stage in London, watch the body language of the gold medalists for clues to their feelings of triumph and pride.

Those athletes who throw their arms above their head, clench their fists and grimace - a universal expression of triumph - are not to be confused with those expressing pride by tilting their head back, holding their arms out from their body and smiling, researchers say.

"We found that displays of triumph include different behaviours to those of pride, and occur more immediately after a victory or win," David Matsumoto, a professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, said. "Triumph has its own signature expression that is immediate, automatic and universal across cultures."

Facial cues

One of the differences between triumph and pride is seen in the face, Matsumoto said.

"When someone feels triumphant after a contest or challenge, their face can look quite aggressive," he said. "It's like Michael Phelps's reaction after winning the 2008 Olympics. It looks quite different to the small smile we see when someone is showing pride."

In conducting the study, the researchers showed people from the United States and South Korea pictures of judo athletes from 17 countries who had just won a medal match at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Research has shown that South Korean culture downplays individual achievement and displays of emotion.

The participants consistently labelled the pictures of grimacing or yelling athletes with their arms raised and fists clenched as triumph. Meanwhile, the photos of athletes with their arms out at their sides, hands open and head tilted back were labelled as pride. The athletes in the "pride" photos, the researchers pointed out, were also smiling.

The study also showed that expressions of triumph occurred, on average, four seconds after the athletes won a match. Displays of pride, however, occurred an average of 16 seconds after the match ended.

Expressions of triumph are an immediate reflection of a person's success, the study's authors explained. Expressions of pride, on the other hand, come later since they reflect how the athletes feel about themselves.

"Watch that immediate reaction in the first few seconds after an athlete has won their medal match - no matter what the sport is - and you'll see this triumph response from athletes all around the world, regardless of culture," Matsumoto said.

Expressions of triumph, the authors concluded, may have played a role in evolution by helping people in early societies demonstrate their status or dominance.

The study will be published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

Read more:
Follow the news on
the 2012 Olympics here.

More information

The University of California at Santa Cruz more information on nonverbal communication.


(Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X

More:

FitnessNews
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Contraceptives and you »

Scientists create new contraceptive from seaweed Poor long-term birth control training leads to 'accidents'

7 birth control myths you should stop believing

Will the Pill make you gain weight? Can you fall pregnant while breastfeeding? We bust seven common myths about birth control.

Your digestive health »

Causes of digestive disorders 9 habits that could hurt your digestive system

Your tummy rumblings might help diagnose bowel disorder

With the assistance of an 'acoustic belt', doctors can now determine the cause of your tummy troubles.