Source: NYTimes, Feb 2015
a 20-year-old experiment by the psychologist Arthur Aron that involved two strangers asking each other 36 increasingly personal questions followed by a four-minute staring session to see if doing so would lead to intimacy and love. For Ms. Catron and the man she barely knew, the experiment worked.
… you risk having canned answers if you keep using the same questions.
NYTimes, Jan 2015
The 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one.
The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person can be exceedingly difficult, so this exercise forces the issue.
The final task Ms. Catron and her friend try — staring into each other’s eyes for four minutes — is less well documented, with the suggested duration ranging from two minutes to four. But Ms. Catron was unequivocal in her recommendation. “Two minutes is just enough to be terrified,” she told me. “Four really goes somewhere.”
NYTimes, Feb 2015
a study that explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness.
Huffington Post, Jan 2015
those 36 are only suggestions. If you are going to use this approach with more than one person, or more than once with a particular partner, you may need to make up new questions so your answers don’t become rote. Whatever questions you use, they should gradually escalate in personalness. If you don’t want to rewrite them, you could use every third or fourth from the list of 36, one or a few from each of the three sections, but always include the ones that build the particular relationship, such as the three things you both have in common.
The basis of the 36 questions is that back-and-forth self-disclosure, that increases gradually (not too fast), is consistently linked with coming to like the other person you do this with. We just made it a systematic method that could be used in the lab. In more recent research by Harry Reis and colleagues, another factor is also proving very important — being responsive to the other’s self-disclosure! These factors are important for both starting a relationship, and even more important, for its continued quality.