Article courtesy of Forbes via The Lowdown
Researchers recruited 48 adults for the study who 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 significantly better than participants from the other groups. The result indicates that receiving a compliment after exercising stimulated the individuals to perform better even a full day afterward.
According to Professor Norihiro Sadato, the study lead and professor at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan, “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. Complimenting someone could become an easy and effective strategy to use in the classroom and during rehabilitation.”
The practical takeaway: if you’re in a position of authority (manager, teacher, etc), be sure to use compliments (and/or spot bonuses) as a means to encourage learning new skills. You may find that your underlings come back the next day with surprising improvements.