Flattery can work it’s magic, even when we know it’s insincere. The Boston Globe covers a new study that found that even when we realise the compliments we’re hearing are an attempt to butter us up, they can still have a persuasive effect.
Insincere flattery gets a bad rap. Sure, it sounds cheesy or even awkward. But new research suggests that one‚Äôs initial conscious reaction – discounting the flattery as a self-serving ploy – may mask a more durable implicit positive emotional association with the flatterer. People who were given a printed advertisement from a department store that paid compliments to their sense of fashion had higher opinions of the store, but only when they weren‚Äôt given much time to think about it, or when they were asked several days later. This effect was boosted after people engaged in self-criticism but was nullified after people engaged in self-affirmation, suggesting that flattery – even the patently insincere type – will be especially effective on folks who are down on their luck.
Sadly, the study itself is locked behind a paywall, but there’s a longer summary of the experiment at the journal website which has a few more details.
By the way, could I just say what a lovely gas mask you’re wearing? Mind Hacks, getting the readers we deserve since 2004.