The Agony of Victory and Thrill of Defeat: Mixed Emotional Reactions to Disappointing Wins and Relieving Losses

8 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2010 Last revised: 5 Apr 2012

See all articles by Jeff T. Larsen

Jeff T. Larsen

Texas Tech University

A. Peter McGraw

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Marketing

Barbara Mellers

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

John T. Cacioppo

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology

Date Written: 2004

Abstract

Because of counterfactual comparisons, good outcomes that could have been better (i.e., disappointing wins) and bad outcomes that could have been worse (i.e., relieving losses) elicit relatively middling ratings on bipolar emotion scales. We conducted two experiments with gambles to examine whether such outcomes elicit neutral emotions, sequentially mixed emotions of positive and negative affect, or simultaneously mixed emotions. In Experiment 1, static unipolar measures of positive and negative affect revealed that disappointing wins and relieving losses elicit mixed emotions, rather than relatively neutral emotions. In Experiment 2, participants provided continuous unipolar measures of positive and negative affect by pressing one button whenever they felt good and another button whenever they felt bad. Results revealed that disappointing wins and relieving losses elicit positive and negative affect simultaneously, rather than in alternation.

Suggested Citation

Larsen, Jeff T. and McGraw, A. Peter and Mellers, Barbara and Cacioppo, John T., The Agony of Victory and Thrill of Defeat: Mixed Emotional Reactions to Disappointing Wins and Relieving Losses (2004). Psychological Science, Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 325-330, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1554006

Jeff T. Larsen

Texas Tech University ( email )

2500 Broadway
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

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

John T. Cacioppo

University of Chicago - Department of Psychology ( email )

5848 S. University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
22
Abstract Views
437
PlumX Metrics