Happiness at the Olympic Games

Happiness at the Olympic Games

Happiness on the medal stand – it’s as simple as 1:3:2

By Shankar Vedantam

Monday, August 18, 2008; Page A02

Nearly a century ago, American middle-distance runner Abel Kiviat entered the Stockholm Olympics as the odds-on favorite to win the 1,500-meter race, an event in which he held the world record. Kiviat had the lead 1,492 meters into the race but was passed in the final eight meters by Britain’s Arnold Jackson.

Kiviat was devastated. Years later, he recalled the loss as one of the lowest points in his life. Even after he turned 90 — decades and decades after that 1912 race — Kiviat said he would wake up in the middle of the night, asking himself how he could have lost.

The Olympics mean many things to many people. For those who study human behavior, the games provide a remarkable Petri dish in which to study a paradox in human behavior.

To read more about the interesting research being conducted into happiness and race results – click here