AsianScientist (Nov. 12, 2012) – Japanese scientists have found evidence that people performing tasks appear to perform better when another person compliments them.
The research was carried out by a group led by National Institute for Physiological Sciences Professor Norihiro Sadato. The team had previously discovered that the same area of the brain, the striatum, is activated when a person is rewarded a compliment or cash.
In their latest publication in the journal PLOS ONE, they show that when the striatum is activated, it seems to encourage the person to perform better during tasks.
In the study, forty-eight adults were asked to learn and perform a specific finger pattern: that of pushing keys on a keyboard in a particular sequence as fast as possible in 30 seconds. Once participants had learned the finger task, 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 task the next day, the group of participants who received direct compliments from an evaluator performed better than participants from the other groups, indicating 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,” said Sadato.
“There seems to be scientific validity behind the message ‘praise to encourage improvement.’ Complimenting someone could become an easy and effective strategy to use in the classroom and during rehabilitation,” he added.
The article can be found at: Sugawara SK et al. (2012) Social Rewards Enhance Offline Improvements in Motor Skill.
Source: NIPS; Photo: stevendepolo/Flickr/CC.
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