Men have been known to engage in all sorts of behaviors to enhance their sex appeal. Work out. Write bad poetry. Buy expensive cars.
Well, guys, it turns out there’s a simpler way. If you want to increase the odds a woman will find you attractive, all you have to do is buy her a beautiful bouquet.
Or, alternatively, hang out near a rose garden.
Research from (where else?) France, just published in the journal Social Influence, found females were considerably more likely to accept an invitation for a date if they had just been sitting in a flower-festooned room.
“These results confirm the popular conception that flowers are able to activate romance and act as a facilitator in dating,” writes the study’s author, psychologist Nicolas Guéguen of the Universite de Bretagne-Sud.
Guéguen conducted two experiments to test the romantic power of flowers. The first featured 46 female college students. One at a time, each was led into a small room featuring a sofa, two arm chairs and a coffee table holding a laptop computer.
They were instructed to watch a five-minute video in which a young man discusses his eating habits. “Participants were instructed to observe the target carefully and form an impression of him,” the researcher notes.
Two minutes after viewing the video, each woman was led into a second room, where she shared their views on the man in the video. Specifically, she rated extent to which she found him physically and sexually attractive, and the likelihood she would go out with him.
For half the women, the room with the laptop was decorated with three vases of flowers — a mix of 10 roses, 14 marigolds and 15 daisies. For the other half, no flowers were present in the room.
Among those who had shared the room with the flowers (which were not explicitly mentioned or pointed out), “the target was perceived to be more physically attractive and sexually attractive,” Guéguen writes. “The participants also expressed higher willingness to date the target.”
In a second experiment, Guéguen tested whether this inclination would stand up to a real-world test. He repeated the first experiment, but this time, when the participants were debriefed, they discussed their feelings in the presence of an attractive young man who had purportedly just seen the same video.
After five minutes, the experimenter excused herself (supposedly to deal with a computer problem), leaving the two young people alone. At that point, the young man smiled at the woman and asked for her phone number, indicating his desire they go out for a drink sometime the following week.
All 64 women who took part in the experiment were single and unattached romantically. Among those exposed to the flowers, 81 percent agreed to go out with him. That compares to a 50 percent acceptance rate among those who had sat in the flowerless room.
So what is it about flowers that elicits receptivity to romance? Guéguen offers several theories.
“It may be that flowers act as environmental cues that, in turn, affect a woman’s behavior and her perception towards a man,” he writes. Much research has linked exposure to nature with relaxation, and Guégen points to a previous study that found images of flowers “evoke increased activity in facial muscles associated with smiling.”
Alternatively, “our results may be explained by a positive learned response associated with flowers,” he writes, noting the long-standing “symbolic associative link between love and flowers.” In this interpretation, flowers — even those seen in one’s peripheral vision — stimulate memories of Valentine’s Day bouquets and other romantic gestures.
Either way, men, the implications are clear: If you’re longing for some XOX, stop first at FTD.