Those who sell and work with flowers are well acquainted with the emotionally uplifting qualities and influential powers they possess. Flowers are uplifting in the sense that moods are often improved in their presence, and influential in that a personal and emotional message can be delivered from one party to another solely through the process of floral exchange.
But what are commonly held beliefs are not always verified by science, and so such qualities remain elements of good faith as opposed to hard fact most useful to flower buyers and the floral industry. That is, until now.
Doctor Haviland-Jones knows best
The Society of American Florists (also known as SAF) teamed up with Rutgers University researcher Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., to conduct the first-ever study regarding the effects of flowers on a human’s emotional state, and how they can affect a person’s mood. Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., being a psychologist and expertly versed in the role of human behavioural emotional development, lead this study in response to nonverbal emotional signals – in our case, flowers.
To prepare for this study, 147 women of all ages – young, middle aged and senior – from both suburban and city locales, were gathered together using standard advertising as well as word of mouth exposure. This group was made diverse through the varying characteristics of its members, including marital status, educational credentials and occupation. An essential prerequisite of test participation was that the woman receiving the gift be capable of sharing it with acquaintances.
As for the test itself, it consisted of the women, while at home, receiving one of three random gifts: including flowers, a pillar candle or a gourmet fruit basket – all of which fell into a similar price range.
The gifts were delivered by trained observers skilled in differentiating between different “smile variations” and what those different kinds of smiles and reactions meant at a psychological level. After delivering a gift to a test subject, the observer’s role was to gauge the reaction given by the woman.
Unsurprisingly, the results from the experiment conducted through Rutgers defended many floral and gifting theories already known. However, new and equally as valuable information was also discovered, including:
· Happiness is immediately aroused in the gift’s receiver;
· This happiness is actually greater than the receiver actually self-perceives, usually do to the accompaniment of surprise and satisfaction;
· Flowers touch on four psychological areas specifically, and promote their growth: happiness, intimacy, well being and calm;
· Flowers, more than other gifts, continue to improve moods (specifically relief from depression, anxiety and agitation, to name a few) and maintain good moods long after the flowers are received;
· All age groups experience immediate enjoyment, genuine excitement and gratefulness the moment a gift is received;
· Relationships were enhanced by flowers, in that communication between loved ones and associates increased when flowers became available;
· Those who receive flowers make deliberate efforts to show off their gift in public spaces;
· Foyers, dining rooms and other communal spaces were the number one choice for placing received flowers for display, indicating their importance and not only beautifying a space, but also developing its welcoming quality;
· Flowers, because of their communal quality, tend to enhance any space in which people dwell and promote group activity and sharing.
As intriguing as these findings are, the best way to summarize the results of this experiment may be best left to a comment made by Jeannette Haviland, Ph.D., herself:
“The symbolic significance and the universal impact of flowers remains its outstanding feature… In my work, I rarely find anything that contributes to such significant mood changes as the floral arrangements did.”
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