Rutgers: Flower Givers Perceived as Successful and Caring
Happy birthday, congratulations, thank you, I love you, thinking of you. Each day, millions of gifts are exchanged by people who want to send thoughtful regards to deserving friends and loved ones. According to research from Rutgers University, the presents we pick to convey our special messages say a lot about us.
Rutgers University researcher Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., director of the university’s Human Emotions Lab, explored what the gifts we choose say about who we are and whether they affect how we are perceived. The research reveals that those who send flowers, in comparison to other gifts, are viewed as successful, caring and emotionally intelligent people. More specific findings include:
- Both men and women who give flowers are perceived as happy, achieving, strong, capable and courageous people;
- Men and women come across as more emotionally intelligent; they give the impression they can effectively express their feelings and take time to understand the feelings of others;
- and Female floral gifters are viewed as more appreciative of beauty and nature.
“Our findings show that you can influence and change what people think of you in a significant way through the gifts you give,” says Haviland-Jones. “That news is particularly important to those interested in enhancing friendships and romances, even business relationships.”
Discovering the scientific power of flowers is not new to Haviland-Jones. Previous Rutgers University research conducted by her team found that flowers create instant delight and happiness, and increase enjoyment and life satisfaction. Specifically, upon receiving a gift of flowers, the female study participants responded with true smiles and reported positive moods that lasted for days. The presence of flowers also led to increased contact with family and
“Flowers have evolved to activate positive emotional responses from people,” says Haviland-Jones. “Each bloom has the potential to put a smile on our face and sway our opinion of a friend, colleague or loved one. That’s powerful.”
M.J. Ryan, award-winning author of the Random Acts of Kindness book series and The Giving Heart, uses cutting-edge science to bring out the best in people. In her books, she teaches individuals how gratitude and generosity can result in greater happiness, health and feelings of human connectivity.
“Gift recipients experience compelling connections with givers, and the positive link is particularly evident in the exchange of flowers,” says Ryan. “In my everyday work with individuals, CEOs and leadership teams at some of the world’s top global companies, I see the powerful implications of gratitude and appreciation.”
According to Ryan, a simple call to the florist can make a big impact beyond conventional gifting occasions. Some of her favorite, unexpected gifting opportunities include surprise recognition for a job well done; an “I miss you” gift for an out-of-town family member; and an advance “thanks for hosting us” gesture before visiting a friend’s house.
“A successful person is not necessarily someone with a lot of money and material goods, but rather someone who is in tune with people and knows how to touch their hearts,” says Ryan. “I can think of no other item besides flowers that evokes such positive feelings and perceptions for both the giver and the recipient.”
Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., of Rutgers University, and her research team investigated the personal and perceived impact of gift-giving. The study recruited 150 ethnically diverse female study participants, who had a median age of 47. Participants studied 12 personal profiles (six men and six women), including contributions to work, charity and family, with the sole variable being the types of gifts they give – flowers, gourmet food or luxury items such as jewelry. Each profile was evaluated on positive and negative emotion, aesthetic appreciation, emotional intelligence and achievement.
About the Researcher
Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at Rutgers University and the director of its Human Emotions Lab. An internationally recognized authority on the role of emotional development in human behavior and nonverbal emotional signals and response, Haviland-Jones has published several books on adolescence and emotion and is co-editor of the Handbook of Emotion, for which she won a Critics Circle Award.
About the Gift Expert
Inspirational author and coach M.J. Ryan co-created the best-selling Random Acts of Kindness book series, The Happiness Makeover, This Year I Will… and several other books on giving and gratitude. An expert in human fulfillment and giving, she makes speeches and holds workshops throughout the country on positive emotions and enhancing quality of life. Ryan’s advice has appeared in more than 1,000 newspapers and magazines including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Family Circle and Cosmopolitan. Her television appearances include The Today Show and CNN.