Election Day is the Saddest Day of the Year

You win some, you lose some.  But did you know that Dannel Malloy may not feel that elated that he was re-elected as governor of Connecticut?

That's because a new study has found that winning elections barely improves the happiness of those from the winning political party, and that losing, not surprisingly, reduces self-reported happiness and increases sadness substantially, according to newswise.com.

I'm sure that's how Tom Foley feels this morning, after conceding defeat to his hated rival.

The researchers used thousands of daily online survey responses from CivicScience, a market research and data intelligence company, to compare the happiness and sadness reported by those who identify with political parties in the days surrounding the 2012 presidential election.

The sadness effect lasted for about a week, but eventually partisan losers recovered.

“One of our main findings is that the pain of losing the 2012 presidential election dominated the joy of winning it,” said co-author Lamar Pierce, PhD, associate professor of organization and strategy at Olin Business School.

The asymmetry the researchers observed between winning and losing is pretty obvious, and in line with past research on happiness — bad things tend to hurt more and last longer than comparable good things. 

Prior research has shown that partisan identity shapes social, mental, economic and physical life. This new research shows that it can have intense effects on identity and well-being.

“We find that partisan identity is even more central to the self than past research might have suggested,” the researchers write. “In addition to affecting thinking, preferences, and behavior, it also has sizable negative and positive consequences, especially when people experience partisan losses.”


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