Japanese researchers have shown that money and praise go hand in hand, by finding that being nice to people or giving them a compliment activates the same reward center in the brain as receiving cash.
The research team led by Norihiro Sadato, a professor, at the Japanese National Institute for Physiological Sciences, NIPS (SEIRIKEN), and Keise Izuma, a graduate student of the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, in Okazaki, Japan, has offered neural evidence which suggests that the brain's reward system works similarly for both praise and money.
They found that perceiving one's good reputation formed by others activates the striatum, the brain's reward system, in a similar manner to monetary reward.
For the study, the research group conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments on 19 people with monetary and social rewards.
The acquisition of one's good reputation robustly activated reward-related brain areas, notably the striatum, and these overlapped with the areas activated by monetary rewards.
These results strongly suggest that social reward is processed in the striatum like monetary reward, explained Sadato.
Considering a pivotal role played by a good reputation in social interactions, this study provides an important first step toward neural explanation for our everyday social behaviours, he added.
The team reports their findings on April 24 in Neuron (Cell Press).