Complimentary performance

You know that exercise is food for you. You want to do it as much as possible and you also want to do as well as you can. Finding time to exercise is something you will have to sort out yourself but new research suggests that your friends, or even strangers, might be able to improve the quality of your exercise by simply giving you a compliment.

In the study people were asked to learn a finger pattern on a keyboard and then tested on their ability to perform the pattern. They were given 30 seconds to push keys in a specific pattern and to do it as fast as they could.

The subjects were split into three groups. One group had an evaluator with them who complimented them on their performance. The second group had to watch other people being complimented on their performance and the final group were asked to assess their own performance using a graph. All subjects then came back the following day to perform the same task again.

The results showed that people who had been given a direct compliment by the evaluator did much better than the other two groups when they came back the next day.

We know that when a person is complimented, or given money, a part of the brain called the striatum becomes active. This is an area of the brain that perceives reward. In effect then, a compliment will provide motivation to do better next time and that will apply to exercise but can also apply to schoolwork or the adult workplace. Compliments really do have power to enhance performance.

So this is an example of “complimentary medicine” where there hasn’t been a spelling error.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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