Women Genuinely Like Flowers | The Effect Of Flowers To Women’s Emotions

Q: Society and media seem to try to convince everyone that men should give women flowers if they’re trying to show affection.

But is that just media-driven fake news in an age of alternative facts? Should I try to come up with some other random gift, like a candle, to show that I’m creative or unconventional?

A: No, dummy.

In the latest issue of the Journal of “No Duh” Science for Idiots*, it was shown that women genuinely like getting flowers, it increases their happiness literally for days, and flowers even result in cognitive improvements in elderly populations.

Furthermore, flowers seem to have special effects that other gifts don’t have. Just buy the dang flowers.


Flowers serve no purpose for humans. At least, that’s the logical conclusion – you can’t eat them and they’re not particularly useful as resources. Some have medicinal value but not most of the popularly-cultivated varieties.

Yet, humans have spent thousands of years cultivating flowers for no purpose other than aesthetics and fragrance.

However, one evolutionary theory suggests that some aesthetic things, like cultivating flowers, are beneficial only because of the positive emotions they generate.

In other words, people were more likely to survive if they stopped to smell the roses – to enjoy the beautiful things in life. This causes positive emotions and those are beneficial to humans in survival.

Additionally, it could be a strategy for the flowers as well. More beautiful flowers are more likely to be cultivated by humans, thus increasing their survival strategy as well!

Some researchers sought to test what exactly the effects of flowers in human behavior might be, and the results were published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology in 2005.


The researchers first sought to see the effect of giving women flowers. Does it result in genuine happiness, or fake/feigned happiness?

To determine the genuineness of happiness, the researchers explained the difference of various smiles.

“Duchenne smiles” (named after their discoverer, Guillame Duchenne in the mid-1800s) are a type of smile that has been identified in research as a genuine indicator of happiness. It occurs in infants, kids, and adults. It’s characterized by contraction of both the zygomatic major muscle and the orbicularis oculi muscle.

  • In plain language, it’s a smile that raises the corners of the mouth, raises the cheeks, AND creates crow’s feet in the eyes. It’s a broad, whole-face smile.
  • Non-Duchenne smiles involve only the mouth muscles.

Duchenne smiles seem to be almost hard-wired into human behavior and indicate reciprocal happiness and prosocial behavior.

They were pre-interviewed on various personality traits and demographic characteristics.

147 adult women were recruited in New Jersey and selected for facial expressiveness and broader ranges of emotional responses.

The researchers then went to the Society of American Florists and, after consultation, carefully selected a mixed-flower bouquet that has a variety of colors and odors and is maximally effective in eliciting happiness (as far as they could tell).

They also found some other common gift items:

  • A fruit/candy basket
  • A large, multi-wicked, fragrant candle
  • The participants were told that they would be part of an experiment and that the necessary items for the experiment would be delivered at their home.
  • When the items were delivered, the gift (either a bouquet, the sweets basket, or the candle) was presented to the participant, and a second observer rated the participant’s smile.
  • Then the participant answered a variety of mood and other questions.
  • Three days later, the participant was interviewed again with open-ended questions to determine the effects of the gift.

NONE of the presenters, observers, or interviewers were aware of the purpose of the experiment (so they weren’t biased to see things that weren’t there).


How many of the participants responded to the flowers with a genuine, Duchenne smile? ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

An effect doesn’t get stronger than this, folks.

The sweets basket had a 90% success rate and the candle had a 77% success rate.close

Also, this shifted according to age: older people liked the fruit baskets more, and younger people smiled more in general.

In the second interview, only those women in the flower group experienced an increase in positive emotions after 3 days.

Part of the reason for the difference may be that the participants were able to display the flowers in a communal space such as the living room or a dining room, thus boosting their effects over multiple days.

Candles were more likely to be placed in private areas, and sweets baskets disappeared as their contents were consumed.


Does this effect extend to both men and women?

The researchers sought to replicate the experiment in a different way – in a public elevator.

Some assistants were assigned to stand in a university elevator and wait for an individual to enter by themselves. Randomly, one assistant was instructed to do one of four things:

Present the person with a single daisy out of a basket of flowers. The basket had a sign on it that said “Free Flowers/Gift! The Society of American Florists Supports of Random Act of Kindness Day! People will be receiving flowers/gifts at random, on the elevator. You can pass on the kindness!”

Hold the basket of flowers but don’t give the person one.

Present the person with a ballpoint pen with the university logo on it out of a basket (this basket didn’t mention the Society of American Florists).

Do nothing.

Then, the individual’s response was measured and noted by the second assistant.

122 individuals were recorded for this study (around half male/female).


The individuals who received flowers exhibited the highest levels of positive social responses (remarks, gestures, facial expressions) of any group.

This was the case for both men and women, but women especially.

In fact, women who were given a flower showed the highest positive social ratings of any other group in any condition.

Unsurprisingly, people who saw the basket but weren’t offered a flower had the most negative response.


This study replicated these results in a retirement home among seniors.

113 seniors in a retirement home had an interview about their mood and general characteristics. In that interview, they were given either a:

Mixed flower bouquet, like the one in Study 1

A monochromatic yellow bouquet

Or no flowers at all.

A follow-up interview was conducted 2-3 days later.

Some seniors got a second bouquet in the second interview.

Notably, the interviews also included measurements of cognitive ability – specifically, what details about the flowers and general events of the study they could remember. This was a measurement of memory.


Once again, it was shown that the flowers increased positive mood for the seniors.

Receiving the flowers the second time got a boost in their scores for happiness (lower levels of depressive symptoms).

Notably, those who received flowers had better memories of the event – the flowers seemed to boost their cognitive skills.


What can we learn here?

The flowers effect isn’t a myth. Women love flowers. It’s a genuine reaction, it may have evolutionary roots, and flowers seem to be better than some other common gifts in eliciting this response.

But that’s not all – this effect works for both men and women, AND seniors.

For seniors, the flowers even gave them a boost in their cognitive skills – specifically, episodic memory.

Research Shows That the Clothes You Wear Actually Change the Way You Perform

If you’ve ever watched the rehearsal process of a play, then you know just how powerful clothes are. Even in the very early stages of a project, professional actors will come to practice in certain clothing pieces that make them feel more like their character. Perhaps it’s an old pair of shoes, a long and heavy skirt, or a bandana that helps them get just the right swagger, grace, or edge.

A few weeks later, when they’re closer to opening, they’ll have an actual dress rehearsal with their real costumes. It’s pretty amazing to see how the right clothes bring the performances up to a whole new level and transform the actor into the character! As business professionals, we can actually learn a lot from this.

Like it or not, your clothes and presentation communicate volumes about you as a person. The question is not whether you care about fashion, it’s more about what you’re communicating intentionally or unconsciously through your fashion choices. Just as the actor in the right costume moves and speaks differently, so does the everyday person.

Your clothes tell a story about you. If you want to show that your work is clean, sharp, and to the point, you need to dress in clean lines, sharp creases, and (yes) points on your shoes and tie. Even the way you wear your glasses speaks volumes about you and your work!

What Do the Details Show?

Research shows that you can tell a lot about someone’s personality, politics, status, age and income just from looking at a photo of their shoes.

Did you ever notice that when President Barack Obama addressed a crowd of working class Americans, he would speak with no jacket and his sleeves rolled up? That silently and instantly communicated to the audience that he too was a hard worker.

You might remember when a 44 page dress code published by Swiss bank UBS went viral. The obsessive stipulations detailed everything from the sensible (“If you wear a watch, it suggests reliability and that punctuality is of great concern to you”) to the downright invasive (employees were instructed on how to shower and apply lotion, how to wear their underwear, and told not to eat garlic during the week).

They may have been control freaks, but UBS got one thing right: every detail about your presentation communicates something.

When you’re dressing or grooming, consider what it says about you and whether it’s in line with the message you want to communicate. There’s no right or wrong. It’s all about context. A tie can make you look reliable and rooted in tradition. This might be important at an investment firm, where clients want to know that you’re serious about stewarding their capital. But it can also come off as stuffy and resistant to change, which may be inappropriate for a tech startup.

Your Clothing Impacts Your Thinking

Of course, dressing smart is also important for your confidence and sense of self-empowerment. But your style does more than just send messages, to your mind or to others. New research shows it actually impacts how you think. Professional dress, one study found, increases abstract thinking and gives people a broader perspective. So that tie might actually be switching on your creativity button.

“The formality of clothing might not only influence the way others perceive a person, and how people perceive themselves, but could influence decision making in important ways through its influence on processing style,” the study says.

Professional attire creates social distance. When we are more socially distant, we tend to think in more distant, abstract terms. In socially distant settings we address people by their title, for instance, rather than the more intimate first name.

“Even after controlling for socioeconomic status, students wearing more formal clothing showed stronger inclinations towards abstract processing.”


Usually we process visual details instantaneously through a process called thin-slicing. That’s when the brain makes millisecond judgements based on new stimulus. It often happens without us even knowing. We might just get a feeling that we don’t trust someone, or that someone else is steady and reliable. We might not even know why.

That gut feeling, commonly called intuition or a first impression, is really part of the very fast-paced mental process of thin-slicing. It’s how we continually judge books by their covers, all day, every day.

So choose your personal presentation with care. Presentation includes not only your clothes, but your accessories, hairstyle, fragrance, posture, body language, tone of voice, and the level of energy with which you move and speak. Think of the person that you need to be in any particular situation. Then dress, groom, and accessorize in a way that helps you mentally step into that personality.

Are you marching in there to get things done? Put on something red, roll up your sleeves and speak in a commanding voice. Are you making social connections at a gala event? Go for suave, but not workplace formal. Dress to feel attractive. Speak in a smooth tone, and let one shoulder relax.

If you’re loafing around on a long weekend with half a box of pizza, you can probably get away with breaking out the frumpy comfortables.

Taking intentional command of how you dress and present is a good step in empowering yourself, accomplishing your goals, and living a more lucid life at the helm of your decisions. So pay attention! Remember, all the world’s a stage.

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