14 July 2014

Being Second Best Sucks ... Orange Fever in The Netherlands

The 2014 Football World Cup is now over. Germany won the trophy after winning over Argentina in the final.

Here, in The Netherlands, we had about one month of “Orange (Oranje) Fever” (see pics below) with everything, except the grass, being orange. Considering that The Netherlands is a small country with less than 17 million people, I dare to say that the National Football team did very well at both this World Cup and the previous one (South Africa 2010).

Four years ago, Oranje were second best (losing the final to Spain), while this year they were third best after winning over Brazil in the “small final”. Thank you Oranje!

Judging by the reactions of the Dutch players after being second in 2010 and third in 2014, the conclusion is that being third is better than being second best.

The conclusion stands even if we focus only on the games this year. The Dutch were quite happy after getting the third place in the World cup, while the Argentinians were devastated after getting the second place. The Argentinian captain, the famous Lionel Messi was truly upset even if he was awarded the golden ball trophy for the best player of the tournament.

If we would be thinking with our feet in cold water (system 2), I guess it would be quite obvious that being second is better than being third. But emotions aren’t all that straightforward.

In a (now famous) study by Medvec, VictoriaHusted; Madey, Scott F.; Gilovich, Thomas published in the Journal of Personalityand Social Psychology in 1995, the researchers found that at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona the bronze medals winners were happier than the silver medallists.

The authors attribute this to counterfactual thinking or, in simpler words, “What could have been”. Silver medallists think that they could have won the gold while the bronze medallists are happy to just get a medal.

In the Football World Cup the effect is even more pronounced since the silver medallists (this year Argentina, four years ago Oranje) get their medals after losing the final; whereas the bronze medallists get their medals after winning the last game (“small final”).

Thank you again Oranje and maybe in 2018 you will be even happier than now (after winning third place).

Orange Fever Pics  

Yes! I had Orange Fever as well

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