Flowers traditionally have a lot of common associations with romance: picking the petals off wondering if he loves you or not, exchanging corsages and boutonnieres for prom, or their huge role in weddings. But in the beginning of new relationships, one of the most common questions I’ve seen men ask is “Should I bring my date flowers?”
What kind of effects can flowers really have on dating and romantic relationships? A recent study by Nicolas Guéguen (2011) investigated the association between flowers and the effect on human romantic behavior. Namely the author was interested in how they can alter women’s attractiveness ratings for men and their dating behavior. In a series of studies, women were shown into a room and asked to watch a video with a young man describing his food habits. In the first study, the room would either have three vases of mixed flowers which included roses, French marigolds, and daisies around the room or none at all based on predetermined assignments to the different conditions. After viewing the video, women were asked to rate the attractiveness of the man in the video. In an extension of this, the second study added a male aide that was supposedly also participating in a separate room and would interact with the woman after her viewing the video, and would ask her for her phone number to ask her out on a date. From these studies, the researchers were able to look at how the presence of flowers can affect attractiveness ratings and their willingness of dating behaviors.
The first study showed women in the flowered room rated the young man in the video significantly more physically attractive, sexually attractive, and more willing to date him than those without flowers in the room. The second study also showed that women who had viewed the video in the flowered room were more likely to accept the aide’s offer and give him their phone number. In the flowerless condition, only half of the women accepted the aide’s offer, whereas 81 percent of the women in the flowered room gave the aide their number.