Expectations and Emotions of Olympic Athletes

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 41, pp. 438-446, 2005

9 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2010

See all articles by A. Peter McGraw

A. Peter McGraw

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Marketing

Barbara Mellers

University of California, Berkeley - Marketing Group; University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department

Philip E. Tetlock

University of California, Berkeley - Organizational Behavior & Industrial Relations Group; University of Pennsylvania - Management Department

Date Written: 2005

Abstract

In an often-cited study about counterfactuals, Medvec, Madey, and Gilovich (1995) found that bronze medalists appeared happier than silver medalists in television coverage of the 1992 Summer Olympics. Medvec et al. argued that bronze medalists compared themselves to 4th place finishers, whereas silver medalists compared themselves to gold medalists. These counterfactuals were the most salient because they were either qualitatively different (gold vs. silver) or categorically different (medal vs. no medal) from what actually occurred. Drawing on archival data and experimental studies, we show that Olympic athletes (among others) are more likely to make counterfactual comparisons based on their prior expectations, consistent with decision affect theory. Silver medalists are more likely to be disappointed because their personal expectations are higher than those of bronze medalists. We provide a test between expectancy-based versus category-based processing and discuss circumstances that trigger each type of processing.

Suggested Citation

McGraw, A. Peter and Mellers, Barbara and Tetlock, Philip E., Expectations and Emotions of Olympic Athletes (2005). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Vol. 41, pp. 438-446, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1553983

A. Peter McGraw (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Marketing ( email )

United States

Barbara Mellers

University of California, Berkeley - Marketing Group ( email )

Haas School of Business
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States

Philip E. Tetlock

University of California, Berkeley - Organizational Behavior & Industrial Relations Group ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

University of Pennsylvania - Management Department ( email )

The Wharton School
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States

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