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Tufts Free Compliments helps promote positive psychology on Facebook

Published: Friday, November 30, 2012

Updated: Friday, November 30, 2012 12:11


Courtesy Brendon Conron

Since 2007, Tufts Free Compliments has been doling out positive remarks to passersby of Tisch Library.


For those in need of a smile, Tufts Free Compliments does the job nicely. This group, which is dedicated to brightening the days of Tufts students, can often be spotted holding signs and complimenting passersby outside of Tisch Library. Their most recent undertaking is the addition of a Facebook group to expand the reach of their compliments.

Marc Finder (A ’11) established Tufts Free Compliments in 2007, organizing the group based on the free complimenting efforts that were being made at other colleges, according to junior Alexander Most, who is a past president of Tufts Free Compliments.

Since its creation, the group has had a steadily growing presence on campus. Recently, it has attracted national media attention, specifically a Nov. 19 mention in USA Today College as part of its list of “6 Quirky College Clubs.” Despite the hype, Most said that the club’s membership has been fairly small since its creation.

“Before, it was a much smaller group of people, and mainly friends of the people who did it would join in,” Most said.

This year, under the leadership of sophomore Brendan Conron, the group of free compliment givers has expanded significantly.

“It’s grown a lot this semester, and it’s great to see how far it’s come along,” Conron said.

Some students receive a free compliment and then want to join the group themselves, Most added.

“A good amount of people [that] do come [are] people who get a compliment and want to join in, but [Conron] also had a general interest meeting at the start of the year,” Most said.

According to sophomore Graham Starr, the public relations director for Tufts Free Compliments, social media also played a major role in shaping the group this year.

“At the end of last year, our membership dropped and there was the possibility that we actually weren’t going to continue into this year,” he said. “Using social media has been very helpful in getting people involved.”

Starr added that Tufts Free Compliments is now using social media as way to brand itself as “the premiere positive psychology group at Tufts.”

For Starr, positive psychology, a recent movement within the psychology community toward embracing existence, is at the core of the group’s mission. The field looks at the sources of happiness and seeks ways to improve satisfaction.

“I feel if people smile or chuckle, they will feel a little better,” Starr said. “We want to be a cog in this machine that is positivity on campus.”

On Tuesday, the group began a new online service to spread happiness throughout the student body through a Facebook page called Tufts Compliments. 

The idea initially came from sophomore Melissa Wang, who found out about the group during a visit to Tufts during her senior year of high school. Wang is also a News editor for the Daily.

“It was April Open House of my senior year after I’d been accepted to Tufts, and I saw complimenters holding up signs,” Wang said. “And that definitely made me like Tufts more.”

Wang didn’t join the organization until this year. 

Since becoming a member, she has been inspired by the online free compliments initiatives found at other universities. 

“I looked more into it, and apparently the idea originated at Queen’s University in Ontario,” Wang said. “I thought it would be a great thing to bring to Tufts because this new online free complimenting service just seemed like a natural add-on.”

Since it was created on Tuesday, the Tufts Free Compliments page has already attracted 650 friends as of Thursday morning and has helped expand the group’s reach significantly, Conron said.

“The big thing is not overwhelming people, and we try to maintain a comfortable environment where people can still get compliments and be happy with them,” he said.

Starr explained that the group works hard to maintain an anonymous process when it comes to receiving and posting the compliments. He said that anyone can send in a submission via a Facebook message to the Tufts Compliments page.

A member will then post the submission as a status update, tagging the person it concerns when possible, before deleting the original message to maintain the anonymity of the complimenting person.

“Anyone can send in anything about anybody, and it will be completely confidential,” Starr said. 

“There’s no record of a person sending us something if they’re embarrassed about complimenting somebody.”

Starr found that the anonymous complimenting is helpful to boosting involvement in the group, since it makes the experience easier.

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