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Choosing Your Comparison Group

Photo: jayneandd

I told my wife that I’m happy when I run my best possible, which I did (25:58) in Sunday’s Komen Run for the Cure 5KM race in Austin.? She said that I should also be very happy that I took first place out of eight old guys in my age category (65-69).? I’ve never placed first before – so I am happy, but less happy than if I had come in second with better competitors. (The second-place finisher was five minutes behind me – the guys who typically run at about my pace didn’t race.) This implies strange things about my?utility function – which is apparently defined not just over absolutes, and not only expanded to include relative position, but also includes relative position compared to what one expects the comparison group to be.? Are there other examples of this type of what I view as rational thinking, but which seems weird on the surface?