Silver is worse:
Research suggests that in the Olympics, those who finish third are likely to be a lot happier than those who finish second. The reason is that much of our thinking is based on counterfactuals. We like to ask: What else could have happened?
If you finish second, you tend to think that with a little good luck, or maybe a bit of extra effort or skill, you might have gotten the prize of a lifetime: Olympic gold. But if you finish third, you tend to think that with a little bad luck, or without that extra effort or skill, you wouldn’t have gotten the prize of a lifetime: an Olympic medal.
Update from a reader:
Did you ever hear Jerry Seinfeld’s take on this? Very funny: