Blind and sighted, man or macaque—we all celebrate in the same way. A recent study from scientists at the University of British Columbia and San Francisco State University shows that the “victory dance”—arms raised, chest puffed out—is an instinctive trait of all primates.
You mean I have something in common with Michael Phelps? All right, then!
It turns out that the victory dance closely resembles the dominance displays of chimpanzees and monkeys—”Yes, I’m strong, and I’m bigger than you”—and is universal among all athletes, from all cultures, including blind Paralympians. Since the blind athletes couldn’t have learned this behavior from others, the victory dance has to be innate.
Similarly, poses of defeat—heads down, shoulders slumped—are also the same for all primates (and not only primates), with the exception of some sighted athletes from the U.S. and Western Europe. The lead author of the study speculates that “the athletes were intentionally hiding their feelings—consciously overriding their innate urge to signal defeat—because losing is so stigmatized in their cultures.” Tellingly, blind athletes from the same countries did exhibit the same defeat poses as other primates—showing again that this is innate behavior.
More and more studies confirm what we already know—that we are all one under the skin. Hopefully, these studies will bring humans one step closer toward having respect for all primates.
Written by Amanda Schinke