The “Winning” Effect: is “Tiger’s Blood” a Thing?

Charlie Sheen, and more recently (and credibly), stock trader turned neuroscientist John Coates believe it is. In his book, The Hour Between Dog and WolfCoates postulates that winning fundamentally alters our body’s chemistry in a way that makes continued success more probable–in other words, winning’s chemical affect on the body creates a “positive feedback loop.” Biochemically speaking, Coates postulates that winning generates testosterone, which boosts confidence, reaction time and focus to catalyze more winning.  Conversely, losing generates cortisol, which does the opposite.

Coates relies on several studies to support his theory: some human and some animal. The human study profiled tennis players and found that those who won their first set had a 60% chance of winning the match. The animal study pitted animals of different species against one another in controlled experiments. The animals were carefully chosen to ensure that physiological capabilities and instinctual motivations were evenly matched. Nevertheless, a “winning” effect emerged. In Coates’ words: “We hold the keys to victories within us, but usually cannot find them.”

Interesting, to be sure, but in this writer’s humble opinion, it’s the neurochemistry (more than the biochemistry) that matters: after all, the brain’s signal is the precursor to testosterone and cortisol–mind over matter as they say. Check out Mojo’s post on the brain power of Buddhist monks to learn more!


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