Common and Unoriginal

According to Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson, authors of the book Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage, American culture is solidarity-based – which means that it is based on creating a sense of equality and belonging. It is because of this that Americans seek to find a way to compliment each other for very basic things – to form bonds and a sense of belonging.

Additionally, in 1981, Nessa Wolfson published a study on the use of compliments in various cultures, and her assessment of American complimenting culture, where compliments are “as cheap as chips,” was that “the most striking feature of compliments in American English is their total lack of originality.” 

Wolfson wrote that 23% of American compliments include the word “nice,” 20% include “good,” and 54% follow the pattern: “noun/phrase is/looks (really) adjective.”