Finishing first is what matters at the Winter Olympics, but scientists believe that coming home third is often better than being second best.
It's all to do with a tongue-twisting phenomenon called "counterfactual thinking" or "what might have been", said Victoria Medvec, a psychologist and university professor.
"On average, bronze medallists are happier than silver medallists," she told the Globe and Mail newspaper, explaining that third-place winners have upward thoughts ("at least I won") that increase satisfaction.
In stark contrast, those who come in second tend to have downward "if only" thoughts that decrease happiness.
The most telling study involving athletes used footage from medal ceremonies at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Researchers including Medvec from the Northwestern University's School of Management in Illinois, asked subjects to rate the satisfaction of bronze and silver medal winners based on their facial expressions.
The study revealed a discrepancy between performance and satisfaction, said Medvec.
"Those who perform objectively better can actually feel worse than those who they outperformed."
Expectations from sponsors, teammates and fans can contribute to an athlete's sense of disappointment, according to Saul Miller, a Vancouver-based psychologist.
2010-02-21 11:02 编辑：kuaileyingyu
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