Brain perceives compliments and cash the same: Study

Researchers find scientific basis for paying employees compliments

People get as excited about receiving a compliment as they do about receiving a cash reward, according to a new study.

The study, by Japanese researchers and published in the journal Neuron, found compliments activate the same reward centres in the brain as money. The study lends credence to the assumption that people get a psychological boost from recognition that mirrors the feelings they get when being given a raise or cash bonus.

The researchers studied brain activity in 19 people using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during two different gambling scenarios.

In one, they monitored brain activity when participants won money during the card game. In the second, they monitored brain activity when participants were told strangers had paid them a compliment on their game playing.

Winning cash and receiving a compliment triggered activity in the striatum, a reward-related area of the brain.

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