AUG 10, 2017 9:08 AM PDT

Could You Beat a Chimpanzee at Rock, Paper, Scissors?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Rock, Paper, Scissors is perhaps one of the best civil dispute-settling games of all time, and while it can be played for fun too, few people know that even chimpanzees can understand and play the game.

If you were to beat a chimpanzee at Rock, Paper, Scissors, their expression would probably look something like this.

Image Credit: Skeeze/Pixabay

Although you’re unlikely ever to play Rock, Paper, Scissors with a chimpanzee, it’s probably good to know their weaknesses so you can ensure you win (hypothetically, of course).

Researchers from both Kyoto University in Japan and Peking University in China taught chimpanzees how to play the game for the greater good of science, and in the journal Primates, they report their findings.

“The present study aimed to investigate whether chimpanzees could learn a transverse pattern by being trained in the rules of the ‘rock, paper, scissors’ game,” said study lead author Jie Gao of Kyoto University in Japan.

Related: This 24-year-old chimpanzee has Down Syndrome

The study tasked seven chimpanzees of various ages with looking at a computer monitor that displayed two of the three possible Rock, Paper, Scissor hand signs. After a moment to observe, they were required pick one.

The researchers taught the chimpanzees the mechanics of the game in segments, starting with paper vs. rock, then moving on to rock vs. scissors, and capping off with paper vs. scissors.

Once the chimpanzees understood the game rules, the monitor displayed randomized hand sign pairs, and the chimpanzee was on its own to determine which hand sign would win. To make its selection, the chimpanzee tapped on its choice via the touch screen monitor.

The results showed that five of the seven chimpanzees mastered game after an average of 307 training sessions; the other two, not so much.

It took more time for the chimpanzees to grasp the concept behind scissors cutting paper than it did for any of the other hand sign pairs, which highlights that they experienced cognitive issues closing the circular logic behind the game.

The researchers also taught 38 preschool children the game to learn whether chimpanzees are on par with juvenile human intelligence. Thankfully, the children didn’t encounter the chimpanzees during the study.

The findings showed how the chimpanzees learned the game much more slowly than the children did, which gave the researchers a gist of their mental capacity and cognitive development.

Related: Chimpanzees can recognize each other by their butts

The children purportedly didn’t experience issues ‘closing the logical circle’ of the game as the chimpanzees did. Moreover, the children were significantly more efficient at learning from their mistakes, averaging just five training sessions to master the game.

“The chimpanzees’ performance was similar to that of four-year-old children. The primary difference between the chimpanzees and children in the present study was the method of learning,” Gao explained.

“Children changed their choice immediately after they made a wrong one, whereas the chimpanzees would often take multiple sessions to correct themselves.”

It appears that if you wanted to beat a chimpanzee in Rock, Paper, Scissors, you probably could. You may also exploit their weakness in understanding the ‘paper beats scissors’ concept to gain the upper hand.

Source: The Telegraph

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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