Published on October 21, 2015
Some take love as a magical feeling that cannot be explained by logic, others think of it as a biological reaction of our hormones — either way ‘love’ is a topic that will have humanity wondering ‘till death do us part’. However the most interesting perspective would probably be that of a psychologist. What if there is a way to make people fall in love?
Arthur Aaron, a psychology professor conducted an experiment back in 1997 where two people were put in a lab and instructed to ask and answer specific questions and perform a task in the end. Two people in a lab, 36 questions and one task– that’s all it was.
The questionnaire starts off with quite general questions like Question 4: “What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?” seems harmless, right? The hitch is the gradually elevating intimacy of the questions. The answers create mutual vulnerability, which in turn generates closeness between two people. In scientific terms it is the “sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure” that creates a “key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers”.
Some questions are easy to answer; others might seem a bit brutal (Question 35. “Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?”). However, the questions expose a person from a side that would otherwise take you months or even years to see. It is about sharing something beyond our ordinary chit-chat with acquaintances, taking us beyond our comfort limits in a subtle way that we don’t freak out…well, not immediately at least.
If the base of a close relationship and love is asking the right questions and really listening, then this experiment is definitely on to something.
You can try it yourself. Besides, if you have a person willing to take the test with you, then half the battle is won already. So take your partner and take turns in asking each other the questions on the list. The person that reads the question answers it first and then listens to the response of the partner. However, there is also the final task: You have to stare into each other’s eyes for four minutes in complete silence. In a time where we barely peel our eyes off our Iphones, staring into a person’s eyes is terrifying enough, doing it for 4 minutes will make you want to run in the opposite direction. So, brace yourselves because it won’t be easy.
The 36 questions that will make you fall in love
- Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
- Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
- What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
- When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
- If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
- Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
- Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
- For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
- If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
- Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
- If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
- Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
- What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
- What do you value most in a friendship?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- What is your most terrible memory?
- If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
- What does friendship mean to you?
- What roles do love and affection play in your life?
- Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
- How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
- How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
- Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling _______.”
- Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share _______.”
- If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
- Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
- Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
- Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
- What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
- If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
- Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
- Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
- Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
And now let the staring into each other’s eyes commence!
The couple that Arthur Aaron experimented on, six months later invited the psychologist himself and the whole lab to the wedding… just saying!