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Are Office Pools A Sure Bet For Higher Stress?

So just how busted is your NCAA bracket this year?

As game time approaches for the national championship game tonight between UConn and Butler (go, Bulldogs!), I'm reminded of an Arizona State University study from awhile back that found workers who bet on office pools (whether for sporting events or reality TV finales) tend to be more stressed than workers who don't have any skin in the game:
"The people who made a prediction always enjoyed watching the shows less than the people who didn't make a prediction," said study author Naomi Mandel, Ph.D., a researcher at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz.

Dr. Mandel says from a purely scientific standpoint, the act of predicting causes stress and potentially even unhappiness. "Uncertainty is one thing that's driving it," Dr. Mandel said. "The other thing is anticipated regret, [or] thinking about all the things that could go wrong and all the negative feelings that will result from that."

On the one hand, it makes sense that no one wants to lose in front of their co-workers. On the other hand, being the only employee in the office to correctly pick two out of four Final Four teams might constitute that employee's One Shining Moment for the entire business quarter. Victory can feel all the sweeter if everyone knows the employee chose his or her teams based on jersey color and/or cuteness of mascot. Who needs in-depth knowledge of rosters and season averages when we all know that an Arizona Wildcat is cuter than a Duke Blue Devil? It makes perfect sense.

So maybe a little stress all balances out in the end, at least for the winners of the office pool. For everyone else, there's always next year.


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