Over 125 Business Students Battle in Rock Paper Scissors TournamentNov. 16, 2006
Over 125 students participated in the Fall 2006 Rock Paper Scissors Tournament. Negotiations and Conflict Resolution classes taught by Christopher Meyer, Blaine McCormick and Rachel Woods, combine for an RPS tournament each semester.
In the seemingly simple game, players use hand signals to represent a rock, a piece of paper or a pair of scissors. In competitive play, two individuals face each other and after pumping their arms (called the prime), throw one of the hand signals. Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, and paper beats rock.
Shane Hawkins won the championship. Shane defeated Tom Bankston in the final round. Shane received a $250 grand prize sponsored by LTrek, a local leadership development corporation
"I decided at the beginning of the tournament that I would avoid using rock for the first three throws, and use a pre-set sequence," said Hawkins. "My most used sequences were P-S-S-R-P-S-S, and S-S-S-P-P-P-R. Both of these sequences give a good chance to eliminate one of the opponents options, and can easily eliminate someone who is playing without a strategy."
Management professors Meyer and McCormick use the game as a tool to study methods of conflict resolution.
"There are also a number of different strategies that are available to those that are willing to dig into the limited resources on Rock-Paper-Scissors," according to Meyer, assistant professor of Management and Entrepreneurship and a self-proclaimed 'scissors guy.'
Before arbitrarily throwing down a signal, this class exercise caused students to reflect on three areas. Does implementing a strategy work better for conflict resolution than a random or reactionary strategy? Does the strategy that one picks significantly impact the outcome? Finally, do personality traits affect strategy, for example, do more aggressive types throw a rock, while passives throw paper?
This child's game is actually turning into serious psychological strategy research for the professors. "proactive strategy triumphs over reactionary strategy," said Meyer, who is compiling statistics for research on the subject.