One of the most popular articles on NewYorkTimes.com, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” poses that idea. The author relies on the research of psychologist Arthur Aron. He brought together pairs of strangers who were told to ask each other a series of increasingly personal questions. He found that, afterwards, the pairs felt greater closeness than strangers who engaged in small talk.
Try the experiment yourself with the complete list of questions below.
Study: The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness
Instructions (Please both read carefully before continuing)
Can you fall in love with someone by asking these 36 questions?
This is a study of interpersonal closeness, and your task, which we think will be quite enjoyable, is simply to get close to your partner. We believe that the best way for you to get close to your partner is for you to share with them and for them to share with you. Of course, when we advise you about getting close to your partner, we are giving advice regarding your behavior in this demonstration only, we are not advising you about your behavior outside of this demonstration.
In order to help you get close we’ve arranged for the two of you to engage in a kind of sharing game. You’re sharing time will be for about one hour, after which time we ask you to fill out a questionnaire concerning your experience of getting close to your partner.
You have been given three sets of slips. Each slip has a question or a task written on it. As soon as you both finish reading these instructions, you should begin with the Set I slips. One of you should read aloud the first slip and then BOTH do what it asks, starting with the person who read the slip aloud. When you are both done, go on to the second slip–one of you reading it aloud and both doing what it asks. And so forth.
As you go through the slips, one at a time, please don’t skip any slips-do each in order. If it asks you a question, share your answer with your partner. Then let him or her share their answer to the same question with you. If it is a task, do it first, then let your partner do it. Alternate who reads aloud (and thus goes first) with each new slip.
You will be informed when to move on to the next set of slips. It is not important to finish all the slips in each set within the time allotted. Take plenty of time with each slip, doing what it asks thoroughly and thoughtfully.
You may begin!
Task Slips for Closeness-Generating Procedure
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?
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
17. What is your most treasured memory?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … ”
26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … ”
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
28. 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.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. 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?
34. 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?
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
36. 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.
Published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (SAGE)