Research shows that flattery is an important part of making social encounters run smoothly. How exactly does it work? Flattery is effective in at least three ways:
1. From a neuroscience perspective, flattery involves the activation of self-focused cognitive networks in the medial orbitofrontal cortex.
2. From a social perspective, people on the receiving end of flattery are more likely to view the flatterer in a positive light.
3. From a psychological perspective, many people value boosts to their self-esteem as much as they value other pleasant rewards like sex or desserts.
Medial orbitofrontal cortex is associated with shifting decision thresholds in self-serving cognition. (Link)
Self-serving interpretations of flattery: why ingratiation works. (Link)
Sweets, Sex, or Self-Esteem? Comparing the Value of Self-Esteem Boosts with Other Pleasant Rewards. (Link)