The Psychology of Flowers: Why Flowers Are Such a Powerful Gift

Flowers have been a traditional gift for a number of occasions, serving as a romantic gesture, a sign of condolences, and as a symbol in many other forms.

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But what is it about flowers that attracts us so much? And what steps can you take to make your purchase of flowers more impactful?

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Psychological Explanations

If you’ve ever sent flowers to someone else (or had someone send flowers to you), you know what a positive emotional impact they can make. But what explains this positive emotional impact?

There are several possible explanations.

·       Beautiful colors. For starters, flowers often come in an assortment of beautiful colors. We recognize flowers because they pop out from the static green of a plant filled environment; splashes of red, blue, yellow, pink, and other vibrant colors are aesthetically pleasing to most people. Whether you choose an arrangement that focuses on one color, or one that uses a combination of complementary colors, your bouquet is almost certain to make an immediate impact.

·       Pleasant aromas. Some people like flowers because of the pleasant aromas they produce. Different flowers have different scents attached to them, but almost all of them add a floral touch to whatever room they occupy. As most of us have personally experienced, getting even a whiff of a pleasant smell can instantly provide some stress relief and relaxation.

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·       A sign of spring. It could be that humans naturally evolved to like flowers because flowers are a sign that spring is on the horizon. As humans, our brains are wired for expectation of the future, and when we expect a reward, we experience a surge of dopamine and other “feel good” chemicals. At the end of a long winter, when food was scarce, humans naturally looked for any sign that food and warmth were around the corner. Now, we have a vestigial appreciation for these natural harbingers of spring.

·       Communication of bonds and trust. People typically only give flowers to the people who are closest to them, so we have come to associate flowers with bonds and trust. Being the recipient of flowers means that someone loves you, appreciates you, or otherwise feels very connected to you. Even if you don’t like the appearance or smell of flowers, you’ll still probably appreciate being thought of in this way.

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·       Tradition and ongoing reinforcement. It’s also worth noting that flowers are a traditional gift for many holidays and special occasions. Because of this, many people have naturally positive feelings about flowers overall – and even more positive feelings about flowers when they’re used in these capacities. It’s a collective reinforcement of a long-standing tradition that produces real feelings in all of us.

·       Temporary utility. Some people appreciate flowers because of how temporary they usually are. After receiving flowers, you can put them in a vase and display them in your favorite rooms of the house as a temporary decoration. After several days, or a couple of weeks, those flowers will probably die. They remain useful and beautiful for a time, but they don’t unnecessarily clutter up your space in the long term.

·       Universal love. People also appreciate flowers because of how universally they’re admired and appreciated. While there are some people who don’t find flowers to be especially appealing, they can at least appreciate these plants as a gesture. No matter who the recipient of your flower bouquet is, they’ll almost certainly feel gratitude for it.

·       The power of surprise. Would you be surprised to learn that the feeling of surprise is often associated with happiness? People love surprises and tend to remember surprises much better than other experiential memories. If you send someone flowers as a surprise, all the positive emotions they would feel from a regular bouquet will be enhanced.

Photo by Oleksii Ihnatiev on Unsplash

How to Make Flowers an Even Better Gift

So what steps can you take to make your sent flowers and even better gift?

·       Get to know your recipient. Before selecting the flowers you’re going to send, get to know your recipient. Not everyone has the same taste in flowers.

·       Nail the surprise. If you want to make the best impact, make sure your gift is actually a surprise. Sending a dozen red roses on Valentine’s Day may align with tradition, but it’s not totally unexpected. Consider sending flowers on a random day or sending more unique flowers to truly surprise your recipient.

·       Add a custom message. Always send along a personal message to convey your thoughts and feelings.

There are countless reasons why flowers make for such powerful gifts. It could be the natural sights and smells associated with flowers. It could be a byproduct of human evolution. It could be the simple power of tradition. Whoever your recipient is, and whatever your motivations are, sending flowers is a wonderful message.


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