Are red roses really more romantic than other flowers?
What’s more romantic than a bouquet of a dozen red roses? It’s hard to imagine a love scene or Valentine’s Day ad without them. Scores of musicians have written ballads around them, the Queen of Hearts was obsessed with them, and couples spend countless dollars purchasing them from their local florists.
But the idealization of the rose as the go-to romantic flower hits the hard wall of reality when considering its high cost, short lifespan, and those pesky thorns. It begs the question, do we really view roses as more romantic than other flowers? And do women perceive them differently than men?
To test whether roses are perceived as more romantic than other flowers, we conducted an experiment with 400 people on Amazon Mechanical Turk in which participants were shown a photo of either a bouquet of a dozen red roses or a bouquet of mixed flowers (randomly assigned).
Participants were instructed to “Imagine that your significant other, spouse, or other person whom you’d like to be in a relationship with gives you the flowers below.” Participants then viewed their randomly assigned flower picture before answering the following survey question: “How romantic do you think this is?” (1-7 scale; 1 = Not at all, 7 = Extremely).
There was actually no significant difference in romantic perceptions between roses (average = 5.89 on a 1-7 scale) and mixed flowers (average = 5.73) (p = 0.215). And there were no significant differences in flower ratings across genders either. Both women and men rated both types of flowers as highly romantic.
Admittedly, receiving either type of flower was rated as more romantic by women (6.00) than men (5.72), a small difference of 0.28 (p = 0.032). Perhaps this is due to the stereotype that men should buy women flowers. Nevertheless, men’s average rating of 5.72 out of 7.00 is still quite high.
So, if you’re considering getting your special someone flowers, it needn’t be roses or bust. Be adventurous! Unless your partner has allergies. Then maybe stick with chocolates.
We used an independent samples t-test to test for significant differences in perceptions between our two experimental conditions. For significant differences, the difference between the two groups' averages would be large and its corresponding “p-value” would be small. If the p-value is less than 0.05, we consider the difference statistically significant, meaning we'd likely find a similar effect if we ran the study again with this population. To test for significant interactions between the main results and participant demographics, we used OLS regression analyses with interaction terms.