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Predicting Happiness in Paralympic Swimming Medalists

Jeffrey Martin, Mario Vassallo, Jacklyn Carrico, and Ellen Armstrong

The purpose of this study was to predict Paralympian swimmers’ happiness as a result of winning 2016 Paralympic medals. Understanding potential antecedents of athletes’ happiness has theoretical and practical value. Medal winners (N = 138) had their facial expressions rated for happiness at the race finish. Three predictors were examined: finish place (i.e., first, second, or third), swimmers’ expectations for race place, and race time. A multiple-regression analysis predicting happiness was significant, F(3, 98) = 3.66, p < .015, accounting for 10% of the variance. Significant beta weights for race place (β = −0.551) and finishing higher than their 2015 world ranking (β = 0.551) indicated that higher-finishing swimmers were happier than lower-finishing swimmers, and swimmers who finished better than their 2015 ranking were happier than swimmers who finished lower than their ranking. The authors also found partial support for the counterfactual-thinking hypothesis for male swimmers and evidence of gender and country differences in happiness.