Backhanded Compliments: Implicit Social Comparison Undermines Flattery

Ovul Sezer, Harvard Business School, USA
Alison Wood Brooks, Harvard Business School, USA
Michael Norton, Harvard Business School, USA
Backhanded compliments are seeming praise that draws an implicit unfavorable social comparison: your ideas were good for an intern. Five experiments show that although flatterers deploy backhanded compliments to garner liking while also conveying superior social status, recipients view backhanded compliments as strategic put-downs and penalize would-be flatterers.
[ to cite ]:
Ovul Sezer, Alison Wood Brooks, and Michael Norton (2016) ,"Backhanded Compliments: Implicit Social Comparison Undermines Flattery", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 44, eds. Page Moreau and Stefano Puntoni, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 201-206.