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Good Question: Why Do We Like Getting Flowers?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- This Mother's Day, Americans are expected to spend an average of $163 on mom.

According to the National Retail Federation, 81 percent of people will send cards and 66 percent will give flowers. Sweaters, books, CDs, gardening tools, a day at the spa and brunch rounded out the list.

For more than 5,000 years, humans have been cultivating flowers – long before Mother's Day and Valentine's Day ever existed.

At Soderberg's Floral in south Minneapolis, general manager Kym Erickson say they've have been putting in overtime filling orders all week long.

"Mother's Day and Valentine's Day are very similar, with one exception: Valentine's Day is all in one day and Mother's Day is all spread out," Erickson said. "We have it usually over three to four days."

Pew Research found more Americans now search "flowers" on Mother's Day more than Valentine's Day. Google finds "flower" searches peak the Friday before Mother's Day and on Valentine's Day.

"What's not to like? They're beautiful, they smell good, they perk up every room," said Anna Newcombe of Minneapolis.

Researchers have studied why people like flowers. Not only do we like to receive flowers, we like giving them as well, according to Rutgers University psychologist Jeanette Haviland-Jones.

"People who gave flowers were perceived as happier, but then they also were perceived as successful, and also they were perceived as sociable," Haviland-Jones said.

In a study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, Haviland-Jones and her colleagues found flowers are a powerful positive emotion "inducer." In one study of women, they always produced a smile. In another study of older people, they brought about positive mood reports and improved memory.

Researchers hypothesize some of the reasons behind the positive emotions associated with flowers range from tradition, to their "super-stimuli," to how they've been bred over the years.

They suggest the global meaning of flowers might be due to a positive-learned response. They also find humans are attracted to the symmetry, bright colors and specific floral odors.

"Certain putative pheromones or fragrances can reduce negatives moods," the researchers wrote.

They also explore the possibility that humans might be sensitive to the various chemicals given off by flowers, given some varieties produced by plants can mimic sex pheromones.

Finally, they suggest the breeding of flowers over thousands of years have allowed only the most pleasing and attractive flowers to remain.

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