Receiving compliment 'as much a social reward as being given money'
A team of Japanese scientists have found that compliments help improve a person's performance in a similar way to receiving a cash reward.
Forty-eight adults recruited for the study were asked to learn and perform a specific finger pattern (pushing keys on a keyboard in a particular sequence as fast as possible in 30 seconds).
Once participants had learned the finger exercise, they were separated into three groups.
One group included an evaluator who would compliment participants individually, another group involved individuals who would watch another participant receive a compliment, and the third group involved individuals who evaluated their own performance on a graph.
When the participants were asked to repeat the finger exercise the next day, the group of participants who received direct compliments from an evaluator performed better than participants from the other groups.
It indicates that receiving a compliment after exercising stimulates the individual to perform better afterwards.
"To the brain, receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money. We've been able to find scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise. There seems to be scientific validity behind the message 'praise to encourage improvement'," Professor Norihiro Sadato, the study lead and professor at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan, said.
"Complimenting someone could become an easy and effective strategy to use in the classroom and during rehabilitation," he added.
The study has been published online in PLOS ONE.