LOVE IS IN THE AN­SWERS

36 ques­tions to make you fall in love

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - EMMA REILLY

Spec­ta­tor re­porter Emma Reilly gets to the heart of the mat­ter

PIC­TURE

THIS: two strangers walk into a room, spend an hour an­swer­ing a pre­scribed set of ques­tions, and fall in love.

It seems im­pos­si­ble — but it’s been sci­en­tif­i­cally proven to work.

This week, to co­in­cide with Valen­tine’s Day, roughly 20 Hamil­to­ni­ans will have a chance to test out the the­ory for them­selves in a real-life so­cial ex­per­i­ment.

The process, pop­u­lar­ized by a col­umn in the New York Times, stems from a study by Amer­i­can psy­chol­o­gist Arthur Aron. The study ex­plores whether feel­ings of in­ti­macy can blos­som be­tween two peo­ple by hav­ing them ask each other a se­ries of in­creas­ingly per­sonal ques­tions. The ques­tions — 36 in to­tal — are bro­ken up into three dif­fer­ent sets, each one de­signed to be more re­veal­ing than the last.

The orig­i­nal par­tic­i­pants in the study sat face to face in a lab, an­swered the ques­tions, and then stared silently into each other’s eyes for four min­utes.

Six months later, two par­tic­i­pants were mar­ried.

The 36 ques­tions phe­nom­e­non has gained such no­to­ri­ety that the New York Times has cre­ated a free mo­bile app to make the ques­tions read­ily avail­able to hope­ful par­tic­i­pants (avail­able at ny­times.com/36q).

Erika McMeekin, the founder of the Academy of All Things Awe­some, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that or­ga­nizes ca­sual par­tic­i­pa­tory ex­pe­ri­ences, is host­ing a 36 ques­tions event on Thurs­day, Feb. 16 at the Oswald Gallery on James Street North. The par­tic­i­pants — 13 women and 11 men are signed up so far — will be paired off and asked to com­plete the ques­tion­naire.

McMeekin has asked the par­tic­i­pants for a few de­tails about them­selves in or­der to help her make her matches, in­clud­ing their age, their oc­cu­pa­tion, and any deal-break­ers that would pre­vent them from mak­ing a ro­man­tic con­nec­tion. She also plans to visit the par­tic­i­pants’ so­cial me­dia pages to get a feel for their per­son­al­i­ties. How­ever, she says she’ll be flex­i­ble if she no­tices any sparks fly as at­ten­dees min­gle be­fore the ques­tion­naire be­gins.

“The night of the event, I might wait see if any­one is kind of vib­ing and rear­range it,” she says.

McMeekin says the evening will pro­vide a great way for sin­gle Hamil­to­ni­ans to meet and min­gle, with­out re­ly­ing on dat­ing web­sites or the bar scene.

“I re­ally do think it’s hard for sin­gles in Hamil­ton. But of course, sin­gles events are just so lame­sound­ing,” she said.

And, if love doesn’t blos­som, the par­tic­i­pants will still have had the ben­e­fit of a deep, hon­est con­ver­sa­tion, McMeekin said.

“I feel like the art of con­ver­sa­tion is not as practised th­ese days. I per­son­ally think it’s fun to go out and learn some­thing new, learn about some­one, and con­nect,” she said. “It’s like the op­po­site of small talk.”

The event is open both het­ero­sex­ual peo­ple and mem­bers of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity. How­ever, McMeekin says she’s par­tic­u­larly hop­ing for some more het­ero­sex­ual male par­tic­i­pants to pair with the women who’ve al­ready signed up. As a result, reg­is­tra­tion is cur­rently on hold for het­ero­sex­ual women.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.acade­my­ofallth­ing­sawe­some.com/up­com­ing-awe­some­ness.html.

MONKEYBUSINESSIMAGES

In Hamil­ton, 13 women and 11 men are signed up so far.

GARY YOKOYAMA, HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR FILE PHOTO

Erika McMeekin, founder of The Academy of All Things Awe­some, is host­ing an event tied to 36 ques­tions by a psy­chol­o­gist, de­signed to get two peo­ple to fall in love. The ques­tions were pop­u­lar­ized by a New York Times story.

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