In 1997, a group of psychologists published a study in the scientific journal for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology called The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings. The basis of their study was to examine how relationships develop and more specifically, how we “create” closeness.
During my graduate program at UA Little Rock, I was introduced to the communication practice known as self-disclosure, which is basically the act of revealing or disclosing information about yourself to someone else. Self-disclosure is a key component within interpersonal communication and is essential for building relationships, creating intimacy, and fostering feelings of love.
Aron’s study revealed positive findings in relational closeness for all heterosexual pair, same-sex female pairs even those who did not identify as homosexuals, and the four attachment styles, including anxious and avoidant individuals.
The questions were arranged in three sets, with each set growing increasingly more personal. The 36-questions are as follows:
- 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.
You’re probably wondering about the success rate of this experiment and how many people actually fell in love after asking this series of questions. In a preliminary procedure before this study was published, the authors yielding promising results with many of the pairs in committed relationships and one who even married. Mandy Len Catron (who also married her experimental partner) chronicled her love story in an exceptional TedTalk, as well as in The New York Times after implementing this experiment in her own life, as well as countless others who went on to find love.
In the end, this study was not intended to replace real-life tools that are necessary for building loving relationships, but rather to examine how human behavior can increase closeness through experimental methods.
The original study was published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, April 1, 1997.
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De’Jarnette K. Johnson is an author, blogger and owner of TheRealBlackCarrieBradshaw.com, a blog dedicated to love, life and relationships. De’Ja is a graduate of UA Little Rock with a Masters degree in Applied Communication with an emphasis on Interpersonal & Romantic relationships. Having completed her thesis on Ghosting, De’Ja has extensive knowledge on relational issues such as Attachment styles, Dark Triad personalities and Intrapersonal communication. She is also the creator of The Breakup Space, a 12-week program designed to help you cope with the loss of your relationship, manage your emotions and empower you to obtain the love that you deserve.
When she’s not writing, De’Ja enjoys public speaking, traveling and spending time with her family and two Yorkies. Her mission is to inspire the belief in love through faith, heartbreak and self-love. “I truly believe there is healing in the midst of heartbreak. I’m a living witness & I want to show the world how to take that pain & see it as a #Blessing.” To connect, visit www.therealblackcarriebradshaw.com and Follow on social media platforms @TheRealBlackCarrieBradshaw.