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Carl Court/Getty Images

Study Finds Male Tennis Players Are More Likely to Choke Under Pressure

Carl Court/Getty Images
Carl Court/Getty Images

High-stakes situations can rattle anyone, but a new study suggests that it might affect men and women differently—at least in tennis. As Quartz reports, a paper published by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics finds that in the setting of Grand Slam tennis, when there’s a lot of money at stake and thousands of fans watching, men are more likely to fold under the pressure than women.

The paper examined whether or not players choked under pressure by looking at data from all four Grand Slam tournaments in 2010, examining whether players’ performance improved or declined as the stakes got higher. Grand Slam tournaments are some of the highest pressure events in tennis, and the prizes, which are equal for both men’s and women’s events, can be up to $3.5 million. Using these 2010 tournaments, the researchers looked at more than 4100 games for each gender.

Based on comparing the probability of winning with actual performance, the researchers found that “men consistently choke under competitive pressure.” The probability of winning was based on data such as who served first (a competitive advantage), the player’s height and BMI, and rankings based on performance throughout the year before the tournament. If players who arguably should have won a set based on those data ended up losing, the researchers could reasonably conclude that pressure might have played a role, especially when they compared data across the tournament.

Women did choke occasionally, but only half as often as men did. And, as the researchers point out, individual sets matter a lot in women’s tennis, because while men’s matches are best-out-of-five, women play best-out-of-three. So if a woman loses her first set, she has to win her next one to stay in the game, while men can lose two.

The study makes a compelling case that women in professional tennis are better at holding themselves together in high-stakes situations than the men of tennis, but that may not apply to other realms. Not all of us are Serena Williams, and obviously, professional athletes differ from the rest of us in a ton of ways. Previous studies [PDF] have shown that women also tend to fare better in same-sex competition than when competing with men, so there’s reason to believe that this study might not apply to the workplace or other non-gender-segregated competitions. However, it does indicate that if you were the betting type, you’d be wise to put your money on ladies.

[h/t Quartz]

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Art
The Simple Optical Illusion That Makes an Image Look Like It's Drawing Itself
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Artist James Nolan Gandy invents robot arms that sketch intricate mathematical shapes with pen and paper. When viewed in real time, the effect is impressive. But it becomes even more so when the videos are sped up in a timelapse. If you look closely in the video below, the illustration appears to materialize faster than the robot can put the design to paper. Gizmodo recently explained how the illusion works to make it look like parts of the sketch are forming before the machine has time to draw them.

The optical illusion isn’t an example of tricky image editing: It’s the result of something called the wagon wheel effect. You can observe this in a car wheel accelerating down the highway or in propeller blades lifting up a helicopter. If an object makes enough rotations per second, it can appear to slow down, move backwards, or even stand still.

This is especially apparent on film. Every “moving image” we see on a screen is an illusion caused by the brain filling in the gaps between a sequence of still images. In the case of the timelapse video below, the camera captured the right amount of images, in the right order, to depict the pen as moving more slowly than it did in real life. But unlike the pen, the drawing formed throughout the video isn't subject to the wagon-wheel effect, so it still appears to move at full speed. This difference makes it look like the sketch is drawing itself, no pen required.

Gandy frequently shares behind-the-scenes videos of his mechanical art on his Instagram page. You can check out some of his non-timelapse clips like the one below to better understand how his machines work, then visit his website to browse and purchase the art made by his 'bots.

And if you think his stuff is impressive, make sure to explore some of the incredible art robots have made in the past.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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Narcissists Are More Likely to Be Compulsive Facebook Users
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Updating your Facebook status throughout the day is probably a sign you need a different hobby, but according to a new study, the habit can also indicate something else. As PsyPost reports, people with Facebook addiction are also likely to be narcissists.

For their recent study published in the journal PLOS One, scientists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany followed the Facebook activity of 179 German students over the course of a year. They were looking for cases of so-called Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) based on the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, a system developed by University of Bergen researchers that measures factors like mood modification, withdrawal, and relapse in relation to Facebook use.

They wanted to find out whether FAD was linked to other mental health problems. In addition to gauging Facebook compulsion, they also surveyed subjects on their depression and anxiety levels, social support systems, physical health, narcissism, and general satisfaction with life. The results showed a strong correlation between FAD and narcissism. Rather than Facebook making its users more narcissistic, the researchers state that people with narcissistic personalities are at a greater risk of developing the social media addiction.

"Facebook use holds a particular meaning for narcissistic people," they write in the paper. "On Facebook, they can quickly initiate many superficial relationships with new Facebook-friends and get a large audience for their well-planned self-presentation. The more Facebook-friends they have, the higher is the possibility that they attain the popularity and admiration they are seeking; whereas in the offline world they might not be as popular since their interaction partners can quickly perceive their low agreeableness and exaggerated sense of self-importance."

The researchers also found a connection between Facebook addiction and higher levels of stress, depression, and anxiety.

Studies investigating Facebook Addiction Disorder have been conducted in the past, but there’s still not enough research to classify it as an official behavioral addiction. The researchers hope their work will lead to similar studies pinning down a link between FAD and mental health consequences.

[h/t PsyPost]

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