Hey you… yes, you. You’re awfully clever, you know that? You bet. Smart as a whip. You’re doing a great job, there, reading those words and scrolling that mouse and efficiently sipping whatever’s steaming in that mug beside you. Oh, and did I mention you’re rather easy on the eyes?
How did that feel? Like I just handed you a million dollars, maybe? If so, there’s new research to back you up. According to a team of Japanese researchers, giving compliments can be just as powerful as giving cash… at least when it comes to learning a new task.
Both acts of generosity cause an area of the recipient’s brain called the striatum (I think I spent a night clubbing there once) to light on fire, which in turn appears to boost performance. When folks in an experiment were taught a finger exercise on a keyboard, they seemed better at learning it if the researchers gave them compliments.
“To the brain, receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money,” team leader Norihiro Sadato at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences says in a press release.
So if you want to give someone a boost, try praise instead of pay. It’s, apparently, as good as gold.