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When players won a round, they tended to repeat their winning rock, paper or scissors more often than would be expected at random (one in three).
Losers, on the other hand, tended to switch to a different action. And they did so in order of the name of the game: "rock-paper-scissors".
After losing with a rock, for example, a player was more likely to play paper in the next round than the "one in three" rule would predict.
This "win-stay lose-shift" strategy is known in game theory as a conditional response - and it may be hard-wired into the human brain, the researchers say.