Bronze>Silver? Why bronze medalists may be happier than silver medal winners

Photo courtesy: PyeongChang2018

When looking at the Olympic podium, you would think the happiest would go gold, silver and then bronze - in that order - but psychology says otherwise.

Cornell University psychology professor Tom Gilovich said it's all about the feeling matching the anticipated result. For a silver medalist, the joy of great success can be outweighed by disappointment over being so close to winning it all, Gilovich said.

"The silver medalist don't look that happy. It's easy to understand why: they just missed the gold medal," Gilovich said.

"Is it possible they're less happy than the people they just defeated? It makes sense psychologically, yes, because silver medalists are focused upward on what they almost got. It's a bad thing so they're unhappy. The bronze medalist is also focused on what almost happened. They almost weren't on the medal stand," Gilovich explained.

Gilovich said analyssis of athletes facial expressions over the course of several Olympic medal ceremonies supports the theory; psychologists first started studying athlete's reactions during the 1992 Summer Olympics.

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