"On average, bronze medalists are happier than silver medalists," said Victoria Medvec, a psychologist and professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Managementv in Illinois.
The phenomenon is a case of counterfactual thinking - thoughts about "what might have been," she explained.
Third-place winners have upward thoughts ("at least I won") that increase satisfaction, researchers have found, whereas those who come in second tend to have downward "if only" thoughts that decrease happiness.
February 22, 2010
One is the Loneliest Number, Silver is the Saddest Medal
If you can't win gold, go for bronze: