Would You Be Happier with Silver or Bronze Medals?
You might be surprised that the silver medalists, at least on the podium, seem less happy than the bronze medalists. In 1995, American psychologist Thomas Gilovich, looked at the relative amount of happiness for the medalists of the 1992 Summer Olympics. The psychologist asked subjects to rate videos of the medal ceremonies for the amount of happiness expressed.
Silver medalists were unhappy compared with bronze medalists. The psychologist was supporting a theory by Khaneman and Tversky that regrets have less to do with actual outcomes than how far they fell short of what we imagined. In fact the theory would predict that silver medalists, the closer they came to winning the gold, the less happy they would feel with silver.
The nearer you came the greater the regret. Bronze medalists were often just happy to be there. Khaneman and Tversky went on to win the Nobel Prize for economics building on this and other theories.
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