The way in which we respond to compliments can carry weight. Whether it’s your boss telling you job-well-done for completing a big project or grabbing your co-worker a cup of coffee before the start of the day, most of the time something like “thank you” should suffice.
However, it is a bit different with women.
Anything beyond a simple thank you can carry consequences and even present them as less favorable — a concerning finding —, according to a recent study.
Two researchers published their findings in the journal Sex Roles where they explored the online dating world. While dating apps have taken over due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the study authors — Maria DelGreco and Amanda Denes — titled their article “You Are Not as Cute as You Think You Are,” which tackles the science behind giving and receiving compliments via online dating platforms.
The study, which included 413 undergraduate students comprised of men and women, randomly assigned participants to one of three groups. They were exposed to fake responses about a male compliment on a female’s appearance, which included the female’s response after hearing the compliment.
Responses to compliments ranged from a simple acknowledgment (“Thank you!”) to others that included rebuttals (“Thank you, but I don’t think so”) and one where the compliment includes self-praise (“Thank you, I know! They’re pretty great.”).
So, what happened? Women who agreed with he compliment were rated as “less socially attractive, conversationally appropriate, and likable than women who conformed to expectations by accepting the compliment with, ‘Thank you!’,” according to PsyPost.
Per the study:
“Results indicated that women who negatively violate expectations by responding to a compliment using self-praise and agreement were generally evaluated more negatively than women who violated expectations in a positive way by disagreeing with the compliment and women who conformed to expectations by responding with “thank you.” Additionally, results showed that women who positively violated expectations were evaluated more negatively compared to women who conformed to expectations.”
While the authors of the study acknowledged limitations such as fictional messages replacing real-time responses.
“Ultimately, the findings suggest that dating double standards continue to exist in online dating contexts and that confident women may be subject to social sanctions,” the study’s authors said.
It’s an interesting interpretation of responses to consider when thinking about the workplace. While it took Americans 70 years to view women as equally or more competent than men, women in the workplace still face steep challenges. One study found that two in five women managers are subjected to more sexism than their male counterparts.