PIP News

Questions for Connection: Arthur Aron’s Study of Intimacy Building

The way people fall in love or even develop strong friendships can be so emotionally or psychologically intense that it feels unquantifiable, “like magic.” But, in a digital and remote age that can make traditional modes of connection difficult, a few researchers have attempted to figure out just what it is that helps people connect. One of those researchers is Arthur Aron, once a psychology student, whose own love story led him to study and identify 36 questions that help facilitate intimacy.

Arthur Aron and Elaine Spaulding met at the University of California – Berkeley and fell in love. Years later, both interested in human behavior and social psychology, Aron, Elaine, and a research team decided to try to identify how to create connection and intimacy between two people who were previously strangers.

After much trial and error, they ended up identifying 36 questions that, when asked in order of increasing intimacy/intensity, resulted in increased feelings of mutual appreciation between the research partners. In addition to the order of the questions, the back-and-forth nature of the conversation, the act of simply asking and being interested in someone’s answer, the vulnerability of sharing one’s answers with the other, and looking one another in the eye seemed to be factors that increased these feelings of connection and mutual appreciation.

While it’s been nearly 30 years since the publication of that study, the popularity of these questions (along with Dr. Elaine Aron’s research on highly sensitive people) has made the Aron’s sought-after for interviews, podcasts, and couples conversations about not only their own love story, but their expertise on facilitating connection between people.

If in this month of Valentine’s Day, you would like to engage in your own “experiment” to connect with someone, we have Dr. Aron’s list for viewing or download here. Happy connecting!

Published February 15, 2024. By Anne Rulo, Author, Speaker, Therapist. FB/IG/Twitter @annemrulo 

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