Science & Tech

The instant mood-boosting hack that’s now backed by science

<p>“Compliments are the easiest way to make other people – and, as a result, ourselves – feel better."</p>

“Compliments are the easiest way to make other people – and, as a result, ourselves – feel better."

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Several studies prove what should have been obvious all along: Giving and receiving compliments are essentially immediate mood boosters, and we should be be praising people more often.

“Compliments are the easiest way to make other people – and, as a result, ourselves – feel better,” Nicholas Epley, a professor of behavioural science at the University of Chicago, told BBC. “But when a kind thought comes to mind, people often don’t say it.” But all parties could benefit from actually expressing these thoughts, as proven by a slew of recent studies on the phenomenon.

In 2010, Naomi Grant, a psychology professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, invited students to participate in an “impression formation,” during which they filled out a generic questionnaire. The experiment truly began however when a planted actor, posing as a psychology student, began to casually compliment other participants’ attire, leading to a conversation. The “student” would then ask participants if they were could help hand out flyers at a university event. A whopping 79 percent of participants agreed to help, while only 46 percent of a group that hadn’t received compliments obliged. This indicates that not only do compliments put people in better moods, but inspire them to become more willingly helpful, as well.

The same goes for behaviour in the workplace. A study from Intel and Duke University found that “verbal praise” is more likely to boost employees’ productivity levels than receiving a cash bonus. “People generally don’t realise that something so small could have such a big impact,” Vanessa Bohns, a professor of social psychology at Cornell University, concurred.

So why don’t we offer compliments more often, then? Apparently, people feel awkward giving them. Bohns and a team of researchers concluded that people often underestimate the joy their praise could bring another person, while overestimating how cringe-worthy the conversation is. “They felt like this interaction was going to go super awkwardly, and that they would be kind of clumsy in their delivery,” she explained. However, in reality, the encounters are continually pleasant.

Should you find yourself inspired to praise passerby, Bohns reiterates the importance of appropriate commentary. “The etiquette is to stick to compliments that really convey someone’s social value,” Bohns suggests.

Thus, so long as you’re respectful, feel free shower your peers with praise. They certainly deserve it, and it will almost definitely make you feel a little bit better, too.

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