Poster Presentation 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

Individual Differences in Discomfort in Responsiveness to Compliments (#633)

Zineb Kobi 1 , Anthony J Nelson 1
  1. Online Social Perception Laboratory, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA

Expressing gratitude to others via compliments has been linked to greater life satisfaction and mood enhancement. However, receiving compliments can induce a different emotional state in the receiver that varies from comfort to discomfort. The current study sought to examine personality, gender, and cultural correlates associated with discomfort with receiving compliments. Individual differences were tested via the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Big Five Inventory-2, and PANAS, while cultural orientation was assessed via endorsement of individualism/collectivism items. These hypotheses were tested with a sample of 59 American college students.  Results show that self-reported discomfort in response to compliments is associated with lower levels of self-esteem, lower accurate view of the self, higher levels of neuroticism, low extraversion, low sociability, low level of energy, high depression, high emotion volatility, and higher levels of negative affect. Contrary to our predictions, no gender or cultural differences were found in responsiveness to compliments, although future research using more representative samples is warranted. Although this research is correlational, it is suggestive that lower accurate view of self is associated with discomfort in receiving compliments, suggesting that compliments may elicit discomfort as they are viewed as incompatible with one’s self-perceptions. Intervention efforts should be aimed at this link.