“Can you make someone become intimately close to you — even fall in love with you — in less than an hour? Just ask Arthur Aron.
Dr Aron — known to friends as Art — runs the Interpersonal Relationships Lab at Stony Brook University in upstate New York, and he has love on his mind. Passionate love, unreciprocated love, romantic attraction, unexpected arousal, pure lust — all aspects of human intimacy that fascinate this much-published psychology professor specialising in what causes people to fall in and out of love and form other deep relationships (“the self-expansion model of motivation and cognition in personal relationships”, as his CV puts it). He has built his reputation on papers with titles such as “The neural basis of long-term romantic love”, “Motivations for unreciprocated love” and “A prototype of relationship boredom”. But such dry academic language belies the shockingly powerful nature of some of his team’s lab work.
Back in 1997, Aron and colleagues published a paper in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin on “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness“. They wanted to know if they could create lab conditions that would make strangers quickly bond and form close friendships, even romantic engagements, after just a few minutes.”