Science - August 25, 2016

Flowers put us in a good mood

Roelof Kleis

People are more positive in their assessments of others if there are flowers nearby. Flowers without a strong smell work best in this regard. Researchers at Food & Biobased Research demonstrated this effect in an experiment at the Restaurant of the Future for a study commissioned by FloraHolland.

The researchers asked 64 people to take part in the development of a test for facial recognition. They were asked to assess photos of unfamiliar, neutral faces, assigning them positive and negative personal qualities. In some cases there were flowers dotted around the room, and in others there were none. Identifying the influence of the flowers on the test subjects’ perceptions was the real aim of the test. And that influence turned out to be considerable. In the presence of flowers people assessed faces as friendlier, more adventurous and more reliable. Without flowers they thought they looked more stressed, lonely and arrogant. The strongest effect was on the perception of loneliness.

You project how you feel yourself on other people
Researcher Nancy Holthuysen

Flowers influence our capacity to evaluate, explains researcher Nancy Holthuysen. ‘You project how you feel yourself on other people. You see other people in a more positively light if you are in a positive mood. In fact this is an indirect way of measuring the effect flowers have on you. It is very hard to measure emotions directly. That is why we opted for this indirect method.’


So the researchers conclude that flowers put us in a more positive mood. Their advice is to put flowers in places where this is important: in waiting rooms and other public places where a bit of relaxation comes in handy. But avoid strongly scented flowers: they reinforce negative qualities.