America is disappointed. The economic recovery, such as it is, has produced few jobs and little growth, the war in Afghanistan is going poorly, and Washington’s political culture, which President Obama took office promising to reform, is as vitriolic and paralyzed as ever. As a supporter put it to Obama at a Sept. 20 town hall meeting, ”I have been told that I voted for a man who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class. I’m one of those people. And I’m waiting, sir. I’m waiting.” There’s no question that the president has failed to live up to the expectations of many of his supporters–expectations he created with his empyrean campaign rhetoric. But it turns out that human beings are easy to disappoint. Research suggests that even when people know that someone has nothing but bad options to choose from, they still blame the decider for a bad outcome. And while disappointment and regret and even anger are often spoken about in similar terms, psychologists see them as distinct emotions, triggered by different sorts of events and motivating us to act in different ways. Even disappointment itself comes in flavors: Being disappointed with a person feels different from being disappointed with an outcome, and demands a different response.
more from Drake Bennett at The Boston Globe here.