The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat: spontaneous expressions of medal winners of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2006 Sep;91(3):568-81. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.91.3.568.


Facial behaviors of medal winners of the judo competition at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games were coded with P. Ekman and W. V. Friesen's (1978) Facial Affect Coding System (FACS) and interpreted using their Emotion FACS dictionary. Winners' spontaneous expressions were captured immediately when they completed medal matches, when they received their medal from a dignitary, and when they posed on the podium. The 84 athletes who contributed expressions came from 35 countries. The findings strongly supported the notion that expressions occur in relation to emotionally evocative contexts in people of all cultures, that these expressions correspond to the facial expressions of emotion considered to be universal, that expressions provide information that can reliably differentiate the antecedent situations that produced them, and that expressions that occur without inhibition are different than those that occur in social and interactive settings.

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Competitive Behavior*
  • Culture
  • Facial Expression*
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Numismatics*
  • Social Environment
  • Sports*