In this age of social media and text communication, it’s easier than ever to connect with people from all corners of the world. You can talk to people without ever knowing what their voice sounds like or what they even look like.
In 1997, Dr. Arthur Aron conducted a study to see if feelings of intimacy and closeness could be fast-tracked in a lab setting. A classroom of psychology students were divided into pairs and given 36 questions to ask each other. These questions were divided into three 15-question sections, becoming more probing and personal with each section. The idea was that if people shared personal memories, thoughts and feelings with each other, they would feel closeness at an accelerated pace. The 36 questions became a popular exercise for people looking for ways to break the ice during dates or to get closer with their partners.
Dr. Aron sent out a follow up survey seven weeks after the study and found that 57% of students had at least one subsequent conversation, 35% had done something together, and 37% had subsequently sat together in class. Dr. Aron had, essentially, created a love hack.
This year, Venngage decided to recreate the study with with a 21st century twist: the study would be conducted entirely through text, with no physical indicators.This new study asked 32 participants to ask each other the same 36 questions, but through text message. At the end of the study, participants had the option of exchanging contact information with their partner if they were interested in talking more or meeting in person.
Would people still feel the same level of closeness as in the original study if participants had no physical cues to go by? Is it possible for people to fall in love through words alone?
The results may or may not surprise you. While the majority of participants 50% of participants found it easier to discuss personal topics through text, 53% of participants still preferred offline conversation to online. And while 81% of participants exchanged contact info at the end of the study, 78% of participants did not intend to see their partner again after the study.
While text can make it easier for more introverted people to open up, most people need to meet a person before they know how they feel about them. In the original study, the relationship between participants was rated closer than the closest relationship in the lives of 30% of similar students. In the new study, however, 16% of participants felt the same level of closeness to their partner as they do to the closest person in their life, 84% felt less close in comparison, and 0% felt more close in comparison.
What can we learn from this? Well, while text can be a great way to chat with someone before deciding if you want to meet them in person, most people need a physical connection with their partner in love. There are things that a person reveals through their facial expressions and physicality that is lost through text communication.
But don’t despair if meeting people in person isn’t your thing! While the number of people who use online dating apps is still in the minority, those numbers are on the rise. According to research done by eHarmony, 38% of couples are expected to meet online in the near future, with that number rising to 70% of couples by 2040. And while most people prefer conducting their romantic lives offline, according to a survey by Skout, 76% of people have a good friend that they met online but have never met up with in person. So it would seem that people continue to become more and more comfortable with conducting relationships through social media and messaging apps.
When it comes to love, do what works for you.
This infographic shows the full results of the study:
Featured photo credit: Venngage via infograph.venngage.com