The science blog Cognitive Daily reviewed some research into giving flowers and were impressed by the results:
Dave Munger, Cognitive Daily
A team led by Jeannette Haviliand-Jones has conducted an impressive set of three experiments, each of which contributes to the idea that giving someone flowers improves their mood, not just at the moment of delivery, but long afterwards.
Researchers recruited 147 women using ads in supermarkets to participate in a study about “normal daily moods” and promised one of 10 possible gifts in exchange (but they weren’t told which). The women each received a telephone call and completed a questionnaire designed to assess both their mood and overall life satisfaction. Ten days later two experimenters showed up at the door of each participant, at a scheduled time, to deliver the gift they had been promised.
One third of the participants were given flowers, another third were given a fruit basket, and the remaining third were given a candle – gifts that had previously been determined by another group of volunteers to have equivalent appeal and monetary value. Chocolate was deliberately left out because in testing some people, sensitive to what they eat, will always find it unappealing.
While one of the researchers physically handed over the gift the other recorded the reaction of the participant as they received it. In all cases the gift was delivered in such a way that the researcher recording the reaction would not see the gift before they saw the reaction.
All of the participants smiled while receiving their gift, significantly more authentic Duchenne smiles (real smiles that involve the involuntary contraction of the orbicular is oculi muscles around the eyes) were observed in women receiving flowers. 100 percent of the women that received flowers smiled real smiles, indicating that flowers were clearly the gift that caused the most happiness.
But it didn't end there. Three days later researchers contacted each of the women for second telephone interview, again to discuss their mood and overall life satisfaction, and only the flower-receivers scored significantly higher on the mood questionnaire than they had in the first interview. They didn't just like getting the flowers, the flowers made them feel better for days!
This time a researcher stood in an elevator and gave whoever entered one of three things: a flower, a pen, or nothing.
When no gift was given the researcher would, half the time, be holding the basket of flowers. The other half of the time he would not. The researcher also attempted to initiate conversation.
In all sixty men and sixty-two women entered. Meanwhile a second researcher recorded four different observations – they looked at...
- whether the person smiled
- how close they stood to the researcher
- whether they initiated conversation
- whether they were looking at the experimenter
Men and women both scored significantly higher in social behavior (smiling, conversation, eye contact) when they were given flowers rather than pens or no gift at all.
The lowest scores were recorded when flowers were seen but not given. This proves that it’s not enough just to see flowers – it is the act of being given flowers that appears to positively affect both mood and social behavior.
In the third and final study female residents in retirement homes and assisted living communities were given between zero and two bouquets of flowers over the course of a two-week span. Each was also interviewed at the start and end of this period to assess their mood.
The who received flowers had significantly more positive moods at the end of the study than they had at the beginning. Receiving flowers made them happier.
There was also a clear correlation with frequency. The women that received two bouquets were significantly less depressed than those the women that had received just one, and those women were significantly less depressed than those who had received no bouquets.
It's quite remarkable – men and women of different ages in different situations, and in each study flowers were proven to be the best gift with the most positive result.
Dave Munger, Cognitive Daily
in all three studies, flowers resulted in the most positive results compared to other gifts.