Evolutionary perspectives on sport and competition

Diana Wiedemann, Robert A Barton and Russell A Hill

in Applied Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199586073
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731358 | DOI:
Evolutionary perspectives on sport and competition

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This chapter examines the theoretical and empirical research into evolutionary aspects of four complex issues of human behaviour in sports. We highlight how evolutionary approaches have promoted our understanding of human sports and competition. To begin with, we describe the relationship between sports competitions and testosterone levels and elucidate how winning and losing leads to different, sometimes status-changing, endocrine responses. Secondly, we look at ‘home advantage’ and examine how hormonal and psychological research has aided our understanding of this well-known phenomenon. The next section focuses on possible evolutionary explanations as to why left-handers may have an advantage in physical combat in both traditional and westernized societies. The final section examines colour influences on human behaviour in general and on sports competition in particular, focusing specifically on the significance of the colour red in human competitive interactions. These four themes serve to highlight the value of evolutionary approaches in enhancing and enriching our understanding of human sports competitions.

Keywords: competition; testosterone; home advantage; handedness; aggression; red; dominance signalling; colour perception; performance; sports

Chapter.  9361 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psychology

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