A psychologist made two strangers fall in love, in his laboratory
Could there seriously be a science to falling in love? Psychologist Arthur Aron tested this hypothesis when he successfully made two strangers fall in love, in his laboratory. Aron’s study consists of 36 increasingly personal and in the case of two strangers, perhaps increasingly invasive, questions.
A man and woman sit face to face whilst as asking each other these questions and afterwards, they must stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. Two participants actually got married following the study; inviting the entire lab to the wedding. Dr. Aron’s study notes: “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personalistic self-disclosure”.
The 36 questions include:
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?
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
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.
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?
The author of the Modern Love essay, Mandy Len Catron, put the study to the test with her university acquaintance.
She notes the ways in which their trial of the study doesn’t mirror Dr. Aron’s execution: Let me acknowledge the ways our experiment already fails to line up with the study. First, we were in a bar, not a lab. Second, we weren’t strangers. Not only that, but I see now that one neither suggests nor agrees to try an experiment designed to create romantic love if one isn’t open to this happening.
Mandy and her university acquaintance fell in love but she admits “it’s hard to credit the study entirely” concluding: “love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be.”