Guys nervous about asking a woman on a date can increase their chances of a "sure, OK, fine, why not?" by popping the question (not that question, mind you) in the presence of flowers. According to research by French psychologist Nicolas Guegen, flowers work wonders on women's moods, causing us act friendlier and smile more. Even in a laboratory setting, blooms appear to have a romantically enlivening effect on (heterosexual) women, who, in a study Guegen conducted in 2011, found men in videos more attractive and more willing to accept a hypothetical date when flowers were in the room.
In a follow-up study, Guegen first asked a group of female students to scope out a mall and select a few stores "for when they appreciated the products displayed in the windows," and they chose a cake shop, shoe shop and flower shop. Then, he arranged for five 20-year-old guys to hang out at the mall around those three locations and approach 600 different women and ask for their phone number. Oh la la!
To keep the results as uniform as possible, the monsieurs followed an identical script (which probably sounds a lot sexier in French): "Hello. My name's Antoine. I just want to say that I think you're really pretty. I have to go to work this afternoon, and I was wondering if you would give me your phone number. I'll phone you later and we have a drink together someplace."
As Guegen suspected, the women responded most favorably when approached in front of the flower shop perhaps because of that botanical magic that apparently renders us romantic. Now, the question is what exactly it is about flowers that may increase our receptiveness and whether this is a cross-cultural phenomenon -- although all I can think about now is how those women who handed over their numbers probably spent the rest of the day daydreaming about that mysterious guy Antoine who, alas, is never going to call. C'est la vie.
Follow-up SMNTY listening: The Hidden Costs of Valentine's Day Flowers