Updated: Feb 9
Think about the last time you received a genuine compliment. How did that feel? When was the last time you gave someone else a genuine compliment? Sincere compliments can have a powerful effect on our mood and make the brain work better, too!
They not only make us feel good but also significantly impact memory, learning, motivation, and other cognitive functions. Recent research in neuroscience has shown that receiving a sincere praise activates the reward and pleasure circuitry in the brain – the ventral striatum and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex. It also said to release the neurotransmitter dopamine which is associated with motivation, focus, and positivity.
A 2012 study by Japanese researchers suggested that compliments help people to learn and perform new skills. The same researchers equated receiving compliments with receiving cash; both light up the reward system of our brain, the striatum. A 2017 study expanded on that research and equated receiving compliments with sex; both excited our brain’s reward system and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex, which heads up social decision making.
Compliments are like a mini orgasm for the brain. From a neurological perspective, making a conscious effort to notice positive attributes in others and then express them specifically and sincerely actually counteracts the brain’s natural tendency to focus on the bad stuff. That makes the brain feel better and work better.
Compliments are wonderful. They are free, easy to share, and have the power to change someone’s entire day. But beware -- giving fake compliments or insincere praise can actually have the opposite effect. So be on the lookout for the good stuff today, and let others know you appreciate them!