Three weeks ago, I was robbed. About $2000 in stuff was stolen from my room, and it was my own fault for having left my door unlocked, but it was still ridiculously unlucky that I was the only one robbed out of the entire dorm. (I had long chats with security and found this out). On the same night, I lost my purse with my wallet and all my credit cards, drivers license, and student ID. It was a devastating night. Anyway, I went through the motions and canceled my cards, ordered new ones, dealt with the police, and borrowed money from friends to stay alive. I put the stupid experience behind me and lock all my doors now. I got over it.

This morning, (3 weeks after the incident) I received an email from the International Students Office at UCL saying, “I believe you may have lost your purse including the cards listed above.  This has been handed in to UCL” so come get them ASAP. I was so happy! I had gotten over my loss and thought that that stuff was forever gone, so thinking that I’d get my wallet and purse back was like getting new stuff for free. I ran on down to the office, only to find out that only an envelope with my cards had been mailed in. No wallet, no purse. Instead of coming upon $200 worth of stuff (wallet+purse+oystercards), I came upon £10 worth (oystercards) plus my drivers license. Obviously, this is still better than not having either of these things, but I was so upset! Logically, I gained £10 and saved a trip to the DMV. I should’ve been happy. Instead, I was even less happy than I was before I received the email in the first place.

Part of the reason I was upset is because some of my faith in humans was lost. As soon as I got the email, I felt that some faith in human goodness was restored. I thought that the cash would definitely be gone, but the fact that someone would take the time and effort to mail stuff to UCL (based on my student ID) was very kind. That faith was shattered when I found out that they kept my wallet and purse. Merely returning credit cards (that the user would obviously have canceled) would not assuage my guilt. But apparently it did for this person. That is shitty.

Another reason I was upset is that my expectations weren’t matched. This gives me an idea for an experiment-

group a) give people $10
group b) give people $10 and take it away
group c) give people $10, take it away, and then give them back $10
group d) give people $10, take it away, and then give them back $15
group e) give people $10, take it away, and then give them back $5
group f) give people $10, take it away, make them think they’re getting $10 then give them $10 (match expectations)
group g) give people $10, take it away, make them think they’re getting $10 then give them $15 (exceed expectations)
group h) give people $10, take it away, make them think they’re getting $10 then give them $5 (don’t meet expectations, but still gain)

I predict that people in group d would be the happiest, and perhaps people in (h) the saddest. I think (h) will be less happy than (b), even though they gain $5. What do you think?

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