What? Wondering what you just read? Well, it’s true! And we are not saying that, research is. 

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (they are calling it 2020, not 2021) have been going on in full swing. Countries like China, United States, Japan and Australia have been leading the medal tally so far. As of August 5, 2021, India has won two silver and three bronze medals. A moment of pride!

Quick fact: Did you know the first edition of the modern Olympic Games happened in Athens, Greece in 1896? Ever since it has been held every four years. But the Games didn’t take place in 1916, 1940 and 1944 during World War I & World War II.

Each Olympic edition is hosted by a different country and for the hosts, preparation takes a lot of time, even years!

The Bronze High

Now let’s come back to why you clicked on this article. The University of Iowa conducted research using photographs of previous Olympic Games. The research was published by the American Psychological Association. 

While analysing the facial expressions and reactions of the winning players, they found something interesting. During the medal ceremonies, when the players go on the podium are awarded their medals, the ones who were in the third palace and won bronze were happier than the ones who were in the second place and won silver.

This phenomenon was first observed in 1995 but was re-tested recently. The photographs of the past Olympic Games were used because this edition is being hosted amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and requires the players to wear masks, making it difficult for the researchers to gauge their reactions.

So why is it like this? Silver medallists tend to think that they lost a shot at the first place and compare themselves with the gold medallist, who won in the final. They are often thinking things like, ‘What went wrong?’, ‘Where did I miss?’, because often the difference between the feats of the gold and the silver medallists is micro.

On the other hand, the bronze medallists compare themselves with the others who did not win a medal at all — a downward comparison. 

While talking about setting expectations/predictions for the silver medallists, Audrea Luangrath, an assistant marketing professor at the University of Iowa told NPR, “When they fall short of those predictions, it can affect their happiness post-competition.”

An interesting insight into the human mind right? So will P.V. Sindhu be happier than Mirabai Chanu? What do you think?

Whatever you do, keep cheering for your team and players!

Departing fact: Women were ‘allowed’ to compete in the Olympic Games only since 1900. It was only 2012 when all participating countries sent in female sportspersons.

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