Encyclopedia.com defines Disappointment as,

: the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations

Disappointment is a primary emotion paired as the opposite emotion to Optimism. Optimism is our expectation of the best possible outcome from events, while Disappointment is the feeling when we do not receive the expected rewards of an anticipated future.

As a primary emotion, Disappointment is the combination of Surprise and Sadness basic emotions. The emotion of Sadness associated with Disappointment is a way for us to correct our assumptions of other events in future. By remembering our mistaken assumptions we are less likely to be surprised in the future.

Research suggests that the quickness of our recovery from Disappointment may have both a genetic and environmental (learned) basis, just like the set point for Optimism. Some people may recover quicker from Disappointment, while others may become disheartened or frustrated because they are unable to incorporate the changing information they have received.

Disappointment and Regret are related but different feelings. Disappointment has to do with the anticipation of a positive outcome and the eventual failure, resulting in sadness. Regret has to do with our poor choices in actions and behavior that led to the outcome, and wishing that we could do things differently again.

We use Disappointment and Hurt when we refer to other people and their behavior. We feel disappointed (surprised and sad) when someone does not behave as we expect, e.g, a parent to their child, “I am disappointed in your behavior”. But we feel hurt when we believe the other person’s behavior is unfair or unjust to us, i.e., when they have done us harm.

The artist for Caricatures demonstrates Disappointment through a sketch of a person with a torn kite. Perhaps this person was looking forward to seeing their kite soar in the sky. But now it is torn and cannot fly, and the person is downcast and sad that the expected future of fun did not materialize.

The emotion Disappointment in the Caricature series of sketches

The emotion Disappointment in the Caricature series of sketches

The artist for Watercolors uses sports to illustrate Disappointment. While playing soccer, the forward has only to beat the opposing goalkeeper, but the shot is wide. Each of us can identify with the feeling of Disappointment, while watching the ball go wide of the goal. The anticipated future of the ball in the net, the score and celebration, the adulation of the crowd – all of these will not take place now.

The emotion Disappointment in the Watercolor series of sketches

The emotion Disappointment in the Watercolor series of sketches