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SNU Researchers Find Happier People to Focus Less on Medal Color

  • August 30, 2016
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Gold medalists at the Rio Summer 2016 Olympics
Gold medalists at the Rio Summer 2016 Olympics

In the Rio Summer 2016 Olympics, South Korea won a total of nine gold medals, three silver medals, and nine bronze medals. But how much does the color of a medal really matter to people? Although any of these three medals at the Olympics would be proud of their amazing achievement, after much research, the Center for Happiness Studies at SNU recently announced that a happier athlete would place less value on the color of a medal than someone who is less happy. The researchers found that happiness was the result of a series of smaller, more ordinary events, rather than a single life-changing event. Therefore, according to this study, the happier a person is, the less he or she will place emphasis on the color of his or her medal as the center point of their happiness.

Professor CHOI Inn Cheol, Director of SNU Center for Happiness Studies
Professor CHOI Inn Cheol, Director of SNU Center for Happiness Studies

This research was conducted on 160 Korean students. There were two categories of methods that researchers performed: the “gold-first method” and the “total-medal method.” The former included a ranked system in which each medal was valued differently. The latter did not distinguish between the colors of the medals, valuing a bronze medal the same as a silver or gold. After conducting the experiments on the students, it was found that those that tested higher in happiness levels preferred the total-metal method as opposed to those who scored lower. The researchers were curious as to weather the results of the test only applied to Korean students. The researchers tested subjects from the United States and found that the results showed that regardless nationality, happier people were less likely to give importance to medal rank.

According to one SNU researcher the results of this study show how “Happiness is influenced by how an achievement is reached and perceived.” By this, the researcher implies that one who tests higher for happiness will consider bronze, silver, and gold medals all as great successes whereas a less happy person will view a gold medal as a greater or better achievement than a silver or bronze. Although it has not yet been disclosed whether or not this only applies to sporting events, perhaps one can use the colors of the medals as an analogy to other ranking systems in life.

Written by: Yu Young Jin
Proofread by: Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations

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