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The Winner Effect: The Neuroscience Of Success ...

Copperhead snakes rely on aggressive behaviours to fight for a prospective mate.[2] Since aggressive behaviours in this species are selected for reproduction, winner and loser effects could have an effect on these aggressive behaviours and therefore the animals reproductive success. Male copperhead snakes, who have not had an aggressive interaction in months, when put in a situation to fight for a female is likely to win an encounter on the basis that his body size is larger than that of the other fighter.[10]

The Winner Effect: The Neuroscience of Success ...

Studies have also found evidence of winner effect in humans, typically using sport competitions. A study looking at tennis matches has found that a very close win or loss in a set has a substantial effect on the chance to win the next set.[12] The study focused on situations where players end up winning or losing the first set by a very small margin (two points at the end of a tie-break lasting more than 20 points). It finds that the winner of the first set has 60% chances of winning the second set, compared to 40% for the loser of the first set. Such an effect is only observed for male players. Another study found that players winning in tennis experience an increase in testosterone level while losers experience a decrease.[13] The famous hot-hand effect in basketball has also been found to exist: players who are successful at scoring during a match increase their likelihood to shoot successfully later on.[14]

The Winner Effect1The Mystery of Picasso's SonAre we born to win?Holding hands with their father, a six-year-old girl and her eight-year-old brother arrive at the mansion's gates. They ring the bell and wait, smelling the eucalyptus scent released by the rain that is falling steadily. It takes a long time before the concierge appears, peering out and demanding if they have an appointment. Their father stammers that they have.'I'll see if the Master will receive you,' the old man says. They wait and wait.'You'd better wait in the car,' the father mutters, but they stay. The concierge appears again, looking slightly shamefaced.'The Master can't see you today. He's working.'They trudge back to the car in silent humiliation. Again and again over the years they repeat this journey. Sometimes the Master sees them and sometimes he doesn't.But on the next weekend he is available. Their father shoos the girl and boy into their grandfather's living room, urging them forward to embrace shyly the bright-eyed old man. A slight awkwardness soon passes and the children forget themselves, cautiously pleased as their grandpa folds animals and birds out of paper for them. Their father relaxes into the familymoment too, absent-mindedly taking out a file to smooth a cracked fingernail. Suddenly the older man jumps up, snapping, 'It's ridiculous to use a nail file. Do what I do: file them against a corner of a wall.'And from that moment on and for the rest of his life, the thirty-something Paulo Picasso did exactly that, just as he had adopted many of his father Pablo Picasso's other habits - eating fish with his hands was another such idiosyncrasy. As she was to recall in her 2001 memoir, Picasso: My Grandfather, watching these and countless similar interactions between the two made Paulo's little daughter Marina 'sick with shame'.1Paulo - the frightened-looking, dressed-up three-year-old in his father's famous 1924 painting Paul as Harlequin - led a feckless life of drifting and heavy drinking. He could never hold down a job or even forge a life independent of his domineering, neglectful father. Paulo could not provide for his family, and his two children grew up supervised by social workers; his son Pablito would kill himself when he was twenty-four by drinking bleach two days after Pablo Picasso's funeral in 1973.Paulo Picasso never seemed able to escape the shadow of his father, graduating from weekly supplicant - beggar almost - to part-time driver, and eventually, once his own family finally disintegrated, to live-in secretary and chauffeur to a father who never bothered to conceal his contempt for his son's lack of direction. Marina Picasso remembers one visit when Pablo Picasso took his son into a neighbouring room; she and her brother listened as their grandfather shouted, 'You're incapable of looking after your children! You are incapable of making a living! You're mediocre and will always be mediocre. You are wasting my time. I am El Rey, the King. And you - you are my thing!'2Paulo did indeed become his 'thing' - but not for long. He died at the age of fifty-four, on 5 June 1975, just two years afterhis father died, after protracted family legal battles which left him an inheritance of five-sixteenths of Pablo Picasso's enormous fortune. Paulo's sad life could not have been in greater contrast with that of his famous father.Does this story represent a more general point about the children of successful parents?Here, then, is the question for this chapter: why was the success of Pablo Picasso, one of the most renowned artists in the world, so completely absent in the life of his son?Take a moment to consider your own success, or lack of it, in your life so far. What do you believe is the reason for that? If you are in a position of power or powerlessness, to what do you attribute your current status? These are questions which Paulo Picasso very likely asked himself, as do most of us from time to time. But as you will see in this chapter, how we answer these questions in our own minds has fundamental effects on whether or not we become winners.A very commonly held response to the above questions is that we are in some way born to win or to lose. This is the common-sense notion that becoming a winner - whether political, artistic, business or in any other domain - is a matter of breeding. For thousands of years the odds of success have indeed been stacked in favour of the privileged few by genes and well-arranged marriages, a production line for high-performing humans modelled on the racehorse stud and European royalty. In fact, whether they like it or not, a few billion of the earth's population still live by this notion and regard those of us who don't as loopy. This book will challenge their assumptions.While such an idea might seem dated in first world countries with their egalitarian ethos, we still put a huge premium - consciously or unconsciously - on the 'bred' factors of height, gender and race. As a 2005 survey of Fortune 500companies has shown, we still make our powerful CEOs overwhelmingly tall, male and white.3 And as another piece of research indicates, IQ is a particularly important consideration for the selection of executives, with the strong underlying assumption being made by many that intelligence, ability and genius are bred, not earned. Yet here is the puzzle: if winning has so much to do with breeding, why do so many people who were born with so many advantageous genes - Paulo Picasso included - fall by the wayside in the race to lead a successful, or even happy, life?Or was Paulo's failure an anomaly? Research by Morten Bennedsen and his colleagues at the University of Copenhagen in 2007 indicates that it was not. Bennedsen looked at businesses founded by entrepreneurs successful enough to have achieved limited company status. What happened when the founder of the business handed over control to a son or daughter, compared with when the chief executive was appointed from outside the family, he asked?4If people are born to win, then the children of winners should also be more successful than others. Not necessarily so. Bennedsen scrutinised the handovers to new CEOs in over 5,000 companies and what he found was dramatic: where the succession was to a family member rather than an outsider, the profitability of the company dropped by at least 4 per cent around the time of the succession - and plunged even more for bigger firms in high-growth industries.Being born to successful parents does not guarantee success. But business and art are quite different worlds and Pablo Picasso was clearly not a typical parent, so is there really anything in common between Paulo Picasso and the heirs of family businesses? There is, and the link lies in the psychology of success.In 1996 Suniya Luthar of the Teachers College of Columbia University and Karen D'Avanzo of Yale University studied two groups of fifteen- to sixteen-year-olds in two very different high schools in the north-east of the United States.5 One school was in a poor inner-city area, with a very low average income, 13 per cent of pupils were white and one in five families received food stamps. The other was a wealthy suburban school with one of the highest average incomes in the country, where 82 per cent of the pupils were white and virtually none received food stamps. Yet the researchers discovered that the richer adolescents were much more anxious and depressed, and used more cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and other illegal drugs than their more economically impoverished peers (a discovery that has been replicated in other studies inside and outside the USA6). How can this be? Can we find a clue to Paulo Picasso's lack of success in this study?On the face of it, Pablo Picasso's wealth, fame and extraordinary talent were so far removed from the bankers and lawyers in a US suburb that it may seem absurd even to consider comparing their families. And whatever happened to Paulo Picasso was not down to his having too much money. He survived as an adult on whimsically administered dole-outs from his father, who was his casual employer for most of his life, and these left him and his family poor until near the end of his life. But Paulo lived in the shadow of his father's extreme wealth, fame and genius - and as I will show later in the chapter, such shadows can become grimly tangible influences on the lives on whom they fall.Suniya Luthar probed her data in subsequent studies7 to find out why children of rich, successful parents might be unhappier than poorer pupils. She came up with a conclusion which resonated with an observation made about the economics of success by the economist Staffan Linder.8 Linder observed thatsuccessful people's time is valuable and the higher their earnings the more each hour is worth. The economic logic for financially successful parents, then, is to maximise the family income by working long hours and contract out mundane household and childcare activities to lower-paid employees and services. This aligned with Luthar's observation: the rich, born-to-win children spent more time either on their own or with adults other than their parents than the poorer children and they therefore also felt less emotionally close to their parents. Paulo Picasso found it hard enough to get an appointment to see his father, let alone spend 'quality time' with him.Michael Kimmelman interviewed Picasso's former wife Françoise Gilot and his three surviving children for the New York Times in 1996 at the time of the opening of a major Picasso exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He wrote on the basis of these conversations: 'Picasso, tellingly, didn't depict his children when they were adolescents or young adults. Adoring toddlers were one thing, teenagers another, and in his art, as in his life, he lavished attention on the former but had not much time for the latter.'9 But older children are as needful of parental attention as toddlers, and Paulo Picasso had to wait in the rain for it - leaving him distanced from his father in much the same way as many of Luthar's children of the wealthy were emotionally estranged from theirs.It is not, Luthar argues, that the well-off parents in her study were being selfish or deliberately neglectful. On the contrary, if you asked them why they were working so hard and for such long hours, most would say it was for their children. After all, with the parents having achieved so much themselves, how could they wish for less for their offspring?But Pablo Picasso was not an overworking, driven Manhattan lawyer. He was a neglectful father, narcissistically preoccupiedwith his own genius, who bequeathed a legacy of misery and suicides across the wreckage of his many families. Luthar's research did not throw up such yawning gaps between the success of suburban parents and their children as were apparent between Pablo and Paulo. Something else must have come into play.The severed earIn 1606 the famous painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio went on the run from a death sentence in Rome. The fact that he was renowned and had wealthy patrons could not protect him. Trouble followed him during his long flight from Naples to Malta to Sicily and then back again to Naples. Then, one night as he came out of his favourite and famously seedy bar-cum-brothel close to the port - the Osteria del Cerriglio - he was set upon by a group of men who hacked at his face with their swords.10The attack was so savage that news was sent to Rome of his death - Caravaggio was as famous as he was notorious in his lifetime. Nor was the attack a random one - there was logic and symbolism to the violence of Italy in that era, and Caravaggio's facial disfigurement was known as a sfregio. This attack on the face symbolised revenge for an insult to the honour and reputation inflicted on the person who had ordered the attack - retaliation for symbolic 'loss of face' by real facial butchery. The art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon suggests that this person was Giovanni Roero, Conte della Vezza, whom Caravaggio had sufficiently insulted while in Malta to warrant this savage retaliation in the back streets of Naples.11Caravaggio never recovered his health and strength after theattack. He left Naples by boat, believing himself pardoned for a murder committed on a Rome tennis court. But when his boat arrived at the tiny harbour of Palo, on the coast near Rome, he was thrown into Palo's fortress. Whether the fortress's captain was ignorant of the recent pardon, or whether Caravaggio's scarred face led to his being mistaken for another fugitive knight reputedly on the papal wanted list at that time, no one knows.No matter the reason for his arrest, Caravaggio was seized and locked up in the bleak castle whose squat grey ramparts still bulge over the Tyrrhenian Sea thirty miles north-west of Rome. By the time one of the most famous painters of his era had talked or bought his way out of the dungeon, the boat on which he had arrived had left, carrying away a roll of his last paintings.Caravaggio was desperate. Four years earlier he had fled Rome and in Malta was knighted in return for painting the Beheading of St John for the Cathedral in Valletta, where it still hangs. Scarcely knighted, he was ceremonially defrocked, probably for brawling. As his doomed circular journey from Rome to Rome via Malta, Naples and Sicily progressed, his paintings becoming ever more bleak and his imbroglios ever more convoluted.But he still had friends in high places and once the news of his demise had been corrected, a pardon of sorts arrived from Rome, with the promise that he could return to his adopted city unhindered. Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who was then busy accumulating the art collection that today fills Rome's Borghese Gallery, had wangled the forgiveness - but for a price: a roll of Caravaggio's paintings for his collection. Without the pictures, the painter's safe return to Rome and escape from the gallows was not assured.Now he was on his way back. Somehow or other the desperate artist, sick and weak from his injuries, managed to traverse the sixty miles of bandit-infested malarial swamp which lay betweenPalo and the boat's final destination before returning to Naples, Porto Ercole, where he hoped to catch up with the felucca and his paintings. But the boat had already sailed for Naples when he reached Porto Ercole. He collapsed on the beach there, was carried to a hospice by monks and died on 18 July 1610. Hearing the news of the painter's death, Scipione Borghese anxiously tried to retrieve his booty, which by then had been returned to Naples in the felucca. In the end he only managed to lay his hands on a single painting - one of St John the Baptist - which hangs in Villa Borghese in Rome to this day.If only the captain of Palo's fortress had not been so zealous, what bleakly wonderful pictures that scarred thirty-nine-year-old genius might still have painted. But what does the story of Caravaggio's tumultuous life have to do with whether or not people are born to succeed?On 11 November 1973, a receptionist at the Rome newspaper Il Messagero picked up an envelope that bulged strangely. Curious, she opened it to find a crudely typed and misspelled ransom letter, a lock of long brown hair and ... a severed ear.12 Postmarked Naples 22 October, it had taken three weeks to arrive; the sender clearly had not had recent experience with Italian 'express' post.John Paul Getty III's mother Gail Harris identified the hair as belonging to her seventeen-year-old son but she could not be sure of the provenance of the now decomposed ear, which had been neatly removed from its head with a razor blade or scalpel. She had already received ransom demands for $17 million, but until the arrival of the bulging envelope the police and press had assumed that Getty was party to his own faked kidnapping. Known as 'the golden hippie' by the Italian press, he had dropped out of school and sold jewellery in Piazza Navonain central Rome, taken part in left-wing demonstrations and poured obloquy on the greed of his wealthy family.Once forensics established that the ear had been removed from a living body rather than a corpse, the urgency grew. The boy's father, Paul Getty Jr, who could barely pay alimony to his estranged wife Gail, let alone find a $17-million ransom, had received little of his billionaire father John Paul Getty's fortune because of his own weakness for the hedonist delights of the 1960s.Grandfather J. Paul Getty had already refused to pay the ransom, saying that he had fourteen other grandchildren, and even after the ear was sliced off, it took the entreaties of his daughter-in-law to extract from him part of the reduced $3-million ransom - the remaining portion being lent to the boy's father at 4 per cent interest. John Paul Getty III was finally released after the reduced ransom was paid five months after his kidnap. A truck driver noticed him on the autostrada south of Naples, standing shivering and traumatised in a rain storm, his long brown hair hanging damply over the bloodied rump of gristle that was all that remained of his ear.13John Paul Getty III's son Balthazar Getty didn't particularly like his suite, the best in the hotel, the luxuriously appointed nineteen-room La Posta Vecchia overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. But if it was good enough for Naomi Campbell and Sean Connery, then maybe he - an actor whose sum success to date was to play a gas-station attendant in Natural Born Killers and bit parts in a number of TV shows such as Hawaii-Five-O - should hang out there too, fashion model wife and new baby in tow.The hotel had been built in 1640 as a seaside retreat for the Orsini family, who in 1693 had sold it to the Odeschalchi family. They had held on to it until 1960, when J. Paul Getty Snr, Balthazar's great-grandfather, had bought it for $ 566,000from Prince Ladislao Odeschalchi, and spent a fraction of his vast fortune restoring it to grandeur and luxury.During its rebuilding, basement ruins were discovered of a Roman villa which archaeologists concluded could well have been the remains of a ho


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