Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Monday, May 27, 2019 04:22:57 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

When praise is a problem

photo by

Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D :
How do you react when you've received a compliment? Perhaps you worked particularly hard to prepare a bowl of cole slaw for a potluck dinner among friends and family. As you watch the products of your efforts disappear before your eyes, it's clear that it was a big hit. The words of appreciation and praise of "delicious!" and "best cole slaw ever!" ring in your ears. Everyone wants to know your recipe, further reinforcing the impression you've made as an excellent cook. You've prepared other foods for this group before, but this is perhaps the most favorably your efforts have been received.
For several weeks after the dinner, you find your mind drifting to this incident, recalling it with pleasure. Now imagine that the same event taking place for people who feel uncomfortable at receiving this type of attention. They would rather their efforts, no matter how fantastic, be quietly acknowledged. If others do heap praise upon them, they quickly move on as if nothing happened. Rather than remember their successes with pleasure, the memories disappear almost immediately. Instead, all that sticks are the times they made a mistake in front of other people or their culinary creations flopped miserably.
According to University of British Columbia's Brianne Glazier and Lynne Alden (2019), it's this tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive in their past experiences that characterizes people with social anxiety disorder (SAD). People without SAD show a "positivity" bias in which the memories that bolster their self-esteem are what stick due to "an adaptive self-protective drive to maintain self-esteem" (p. 1). Following from this logic, the Canadian authors proposed that people with social anxiety disorder would carry their positivity deficit to a fading of memory over time of positive feedback about their performance. In contrast, they expected that people without SAD would show the more typical positivity bias of remembering a favorable outcome.
To test the lack of positivity bias among people with SAD, Glazier and Alden chose a sample of 68 adults diagnosed with SAD whom they compared with 71 individuals not receiving this diagnosis ("healthy controls"). The sample consisted primarily of women averaging around 30 years of age, and the SAD group had been recruited from the community using electronic and print advertisements. Prior to the experimental session, participants completed a measure assessing anxiety via a standardized clinical interview. They also completed a self-report questionnaire concerning their fear of performing in public as well as assessments of general negative affect.
For the experimental part of the study, participants were asked to give an impromptu speech to a webcam on any topic they chose, while told that an independent judge would rate them on a number of performance criteria. Following the speech, participants received either positive or neutral fake feedback, depending on the experimental condition to which the researchers randomly assigned them.  The feedback dimensions included items such as "appeared tense," or showed signs of "shaking/tremor." In the positive condition, the feedback showed ratings along the desirable end of 10 of the scales, in the middle on 2 items, and in the negative range on 2 items. In the neutral condition, the participants received 10 ratings along the neutral points of the scale, 2 on the positive, and 2 on the negative.  The participants then rated their memory for feedback on these and 10 other scales for which they had not actually received feedback. The key question was whether participants with SAD would be more likely to remember the negatively valenced items than the positive feedback as well as whether participants recalled feedback on ratings for which they had not actually received feedback.
In this community-based, clinical sample, the findings supported the predictions that people with SAD would be less likely to remember positively-valenced feedback compared to their non-SAD counterparts in the week that passed between memory assessments. As the authors concluded, "participants with SAD displayed erosion in their memories for positive feedback over time and healthy controls did not" (p. 5). As a result, again according to the theoretical model adopted by Glazier and Alden, the failure to remember positive events leads people with SAD to remain primed for future negative feedback rather than to be open to receiving those compliments that people without this disorder both expect and remember. Given the many controls adopted in this study, namely, the measure of other negative affective states, and efforts to make the situation as realistic as possible, the authors believe that the findings support the unique effect of social anxiety on reactions to praise.
What was particularly interesting about these findings was that the authors could track the decrease over time in the recall that the healthy control and SAD participants had when they received favorable feedback ratings. The fact that those with SAD registered the feedback as positive at the time, but then could not recall it suggests, further, that they can regard "feedback as objectively positive… yet not experience happiness when receiving it" (p. 5). The authors note several limitations in the study, such as the fact that it was a simulated lab task, and also that the memory task involved only a 1-week period. The feedback was also highly specific, unlike the more ambiguous and subjective feedback that people receive in real life. Furthermore, the sample was heavily weighted toward females and did not have enough cultural diversity to include participants who might not be conditioned by their life experiences to expect positive feedback in their ordinary interactions.
The UBC results provide useful suggestions for the direction that therapy might go for people with social anxiety disorder who, according to these findings, may process but not register a compliment. Whether due to feelings that they don't deserve to be praised, a desire to escape the limelight, or a lifetime of pushing positive experiences out of consciousness, that erosion of memory could provide an area in which therapists and patients can work together to rebuild those memories.
To sum up, being able to experience happiness when other people notice you can be an important source of fulfillment. You don't need to take pride in absolutely everything you do, but when others notice, it's adaptive to be able to hold on to them, if only for a short time.

(Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., is a Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her latest book is The Search for Fulfillment).

Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Forced disappearances: There is no one to listen their call

FAMILIES of those who disappeared have been attending programmes in different areas over the last few years demanding the safe return of them. With photos of their loved ones, members of some 20 families of enforced disappearance victims gathered in front of the National Press Club under the platform "Mayer ...

Cricket »

Mehidy aims to cover up for Bangladesh's wristspin void

At a time when wrist spinners are in trend, Bangladesh will be heading into the world cup without one. And to be lagging behind in the spin department isn't something that the team has been traditionally used to. Young off spinner Mehidy Hasan believes his role, in the upcoming tournament, ...

Football »

Bologna's Federico Santander (right) scores a goal during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Bologna FC and SSC Napoli at the Renato Dall'Ara stadium in Bologna, Italy on Saturday.

International »

Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between its allies Iran, US

AP, Baghdad  :Iraq offered Sunday to mediate in the crisis between its two key allies, the United States and Iran, amid escalating Middle East tensions and as Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers steadily unravels.Iraqi foreign minister, Mohammed al-Hakim, made the offer during a joint news conference in Baghdad with ...

Sports »

A scene from the fifth round matches of the Walton International Rating Chess Competition at Bangladesh Chess Federation hall-room on Saturday.

Cricket »

Rubel eyes to finish World Cup as one of top five boawlers

Bangladesh speedster Rubel Hossain insisted on Friday he wants to finish the ICC World Cup 2019 as one of the best five bowlers.The right-handed pacer recovered from a side strain that prevented him to play all the matches during Bangladesh recent tri-series in Ireland. Before the main assault in the ...

International »

US troop move to ME dangerous for international peace: Iran's FM

AFP, Tehran  :Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saturday a US decision to deploy 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East is a "threat to international peace," state media reported."Increased US presence in our region is very dangerous and a threat to international peace and security and must be ...

Editorial »

Take time-befitting diplomatic steps

THOUGH the foreign relation of Dhaka with New Delhi and Beijing is remarkably good, it is not working well especially in the Rohingya issue. Dhaka had requested both the nations for several times to mount pressure on Myanmar for Rohingya repatriation, but they kept limited their efforts in extending 'assurance' ...

Entertainment »

Dimple Kapadia bagged Christopher Nolan`s Tenet

Dimple Kapadia featuring in Hollywood director Christopher Nolan's Tenet has got everyone excited. From Bollywood celebrities to regular moviegoers, everyone has expressed their delight and congratulated the actress on social media for her achievement.  Dimple Kapadia's manager revealed to a daily how the actress bagged the role. The manager shared ...

Front Page »

290 migrants rescued near Tripoli

Egypt Independent , Tripoli :Libya's coast guard rescued 290 migrants clinging to inflatable rafts on Friday in two operations near the capital Tripoli, a naval forces spokesman said.The western coast of Libya is the main departure point of hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing their countries from wars and poverty ...

Editorial »

HC concern over slow pace of banning toxic food items

THE High Court on Thursday rebuked Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) for its failure of removing and destroying 52 substandard food products from the market. The HC earlier ordered the BFSA removing the substandard goods of 43 companies from the market but the BFSA did nothing except publishing only a ...

Entertainment »

Poppy, Hasan Jahangir’s Eid drama Nayikar Honeymoon

Sheikh Arif Bulbon :National Film Award winner actress Poppy earlier acted with actor and play director Hasan Jahangir in Innocent Love, Bhalobasha Du’jonai, Mental and Nayikar Biye. On the occasion of coming Eid to telecast on Asian TV, Poppy again paired up with Hasan Jahangir in a drama titled Nayikar ...

International »

Taiwan holds first gay marriages in historic day for Asia

AP, Taipei :Hundreds of same-sex couples in Taiwan rushed to get married Friday, the first day a landmark decision that legalized same-sex marriage took effect.Taiwan became the first place in Asia to allow same-sex marriage last week in a legislative vote on a cause that the island's LGBT rights activists ...

Editorial »

DMP fails to discipline city roads

TRAFFIC jam is a common scenario almost everyday in the capital city Dhaka. Usually, it intensifies every year during the Ramzan. This year it is no exception. But sufferings of commuters have been increased manifold this year because of constructing metro rail projects and unplanned digging in different areas under ...

Cricket »

T20 kings West Indies seek to make fresh World Cup mark

Can the West Indies take the form that has made them such a potent force in Twenty20 cricket into the World Cup?That is the question confronting Jason Holder's side as they head into the one-day showpiece in England and Wales that starts on May 30.The Caribbean team, who open their ...

Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Write a comment to this news