If You Can’t Win Rock, Paper, Scissors After Reading This, You’re Not Even Trying
Your house isn’t exactly a democracy, but it’s still home to enough debates to send Trump running. It’s why you taught your kid rock-paper-scissors in the first place — to have a neutral arbiter in logic-defying discussions like, “Why can’t I eat that off the ground?” Now, thanks to cutting edge rochambo research, you don’t even have to make up arbitrary rules like “rock beats everything all the time” to beat your kid — you can just prey on their psychological vulnerabilities.
Researchers had participants play against a computerized opponent, which randomly picked rock, paper, or scissors each time, and found that humans tended to change their approach as a result of the past outcome. After losing, people were more likely to “downgrade” their next move (from rock to scissors), “upgrade” after drawing (from rock to paper), and stay the course if they win. This puts anyone who’s not a computer in a position to be exploited, and any parent in the position to exploit. All you have to do is upgrade from their move when they win, use their previous move when they lose, and downgrade from whatever they played when there’s a draw. Looking back on it, this might be why your dad also always won, too.
But before you take this strategy as gospel, a caveat: While the study did several hundred trials, it only looked at 31 individual graduate students, 26 of whom were female. So if your kid doesn’t have a degree and/or is a boy, this strategy could get you into trouble. Then again, if you’re rochamboing over whether or not your kid should take a bath, you’re already in trouble.