Can 36 questions asked in 45 minutes make a couple fall in love?
Most of our early interactions when meeting new people involve asking and being asked questions to get to know an individual better. This is even more apparent in speed dating, and knowing the right questions to ask – and when – could be the way to forming successful new relationships. Everyone has their own theories on the best way to approach this, and a psychologist claims to have found the perfect set, which has been investigated by the Times’ Magazine supplement.
The article, entitled “Can 36 questions asked in 45 minutes make any 2 people fall in love?” documents the work of Dr Arthur Aron from the Interpersonal Relationships Lab, whose research looked into how simple questions can form a lasting bond in the space of an hour, if asked in the right way.
The experiment entitled ‘Fast Friends’ involved the participants a predetermined list of questions on a one-to-one basis over the space of an hour. The findings were then contrasted with those of a control group who were just ‘making small talk’ with questions such as “What gifts did you recieve last Christmas/Hanukkah?”
The findings reported were astounding with most participants claiming ‘an intense feeling of having bonded with their experiment partner’, and one couple in the original experiment falling in love and getting married. This provided a stark contrast to the ‘small talk’ control group in which any bonds formed were much less pronounced.
How did this work?
The questions were tailored to start off simply and become more and more personal as time progressed. The questions would begin with innocuous topics like “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” and ”Before making a phonecall, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?”
As time went on questions became more probing and philosophical, with things such as “If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?” and “if you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?” being asked.
Finally, as the end of the hour approached questions became even more personal, including things such as “What is your most terrible memory?” and “What roles do love and affection play in your life?”
So, do you think that a set of questions can really be the difference between falling in love and just being friends? Is it simply a matter of structuring your questions correctly, or is it something deeper?
A full list of questions and an indepth analysis can be found at www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/magazine/article3211760.ece (although this requires a subscription to view). Alternatively, the Interpersonal Relationships Lab homepage can be found here: http://www.psychology.stonybrook.edu/aronlab-/.