In Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love Essay for The New York Times, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This” , she talks about a 1997 study by psychologist Arthur Aron where they explored whether the intimacy between two stranger can be conjured up in a lab with a series of personal questions- 36 questions, to be exact.
Catron, who had always wanted to test this rather fascinating hypothesis on herself, ended up turning to her university acquaintance to try it out. She writes, “I explained the study to my university acquaintance. A heterosexual man and woman enter the lab through separate doors. They sit face to face and answer a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. The most tantalizing detail: Six months later, two participants were married. They invited the entire lab to the ceremony.”
The questions are in sets of three. The questions become more probing than the previous ones. By becoming increasingly vulnerable with the other person which can be both terrifying and difficult to do, the pair becomes closer and closer.
The 36 questions are as follows:
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. 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?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?