The Science of the 36 Questions That Help People Fall in Love

The Science of the 36 Questions That Help People Fall in Love


[INTRO ♪] Here are some questions for you: Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom
would you invite to dinner? Would you like to be famous? What are you most grateful for? And that’s just the beginning. Is there something you’ve dreamed of doing
for a long time? Yeah? Well, why haven’t you done it yet? Or what about: if you were to die today, without the chance to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not saying? And why haven’t you said it yet? Okay, that got a little intense. But it was supposed to. These are just a few of the 36 questions that have earned the reputation of being able to make people fall in love—thanks to a viral New York Times article. Which is bonkers, right? But the psychology paper they came from, which
was published in 1997, is legit. And it’s helped us learn a lot about how
telling other people about ourselves can deepen relationships of all kinds. The original paper consisted of three fairly similar experiments, where undergrads in a psychology class were paired with a classmate they didn’t know well. Many pairs included one man and one woman, but quite a few pairs had two women—just because of who was taking the classes. They were given 45 minutes and 3 sets of questions to talk about, which got progressively more personal. And at the end, they were given tests to evaluate how much they liked each other and whether they would want to work together again. Pretty straightforward, right? And overall, the researchers analyzed 190
pairs of students and a few variables. For instance, they wanted to know what would happen when students were paired with someone they shared values with, or with someone they’d been told they’d probably like. Most of these things didn’t have much of
an effect. But the researchers did find that increasingly personal questions led to stronger feelings of liking and closeness than small talk prompts—like the last time you went to the zoo. And yes, they did follow up with the pairs
afterwards and some of them did stay close. One pair even got married and invited the
whole research team. But that wasn’t the point. The study wasn’t about romantic love. It was about any kind of temporary intimacy, which the researchers described as incorporating someone else into your sense of self. In fact, happily-ever-after was so not the point that the researchers said they always carefully debriefed their subjects. They emphasized that this was an unusual way to form a relationship, and that the students shouldn’t feel any obligation to their partners. The actual point of this study was pretty
simple: studying relationships is hard. Sure, you can study people who are already besties. And psychologists definitely do that, but it’s not easy to standardize pre-existing relationships—and doing so could affect the results. How close are they, and how long have they
been close? What brought them together? It’s hard to base an objective study and
draw conclusions from something so fuzzy. To try and get around this problem, some researchers
have used speed dating to test their hypotheses. It’s a good idea, but because speed dating is so brief, it’s mostly appropriate for studying initial romantic attraction than other types of closeness. So in the 1990s, these researchers developed their own procedure to try and study temporary intimacy in the lab. They wanted it to be easy to replicate and
not too time-consuming. And it seems to work! Their procedure been used a lot since then, mostly to study a process called self-disclosure, which is basically telling or showing people things about yourself. Even before this 1997 study, there was a lot of research about self-disclosure out there, suggesting that it’s important to starting and building a close relationship with friends, family, or a romantic partner. But the studies that have used this method to induce closeness in the lab have learned a whole bunch of stuff. For example, we think that taking turns self-disclosing can build intimacy more effectively than one-sided sharing. And it’s the experience of someone sharing stuff with you that makes you feel closer to them, not the act of sharing yourself. One study found that social anxiety makes telling someone about yourself less effective at building closeness. While another found that moving in sync with someone else—for instance, going through two versions of an assignment to check them against each other—can make it more effective. Today, a lot of the research in this field
is looking into self-disclosure on the Internet. And psychologists think that it also makes people feel close. Studying this can be kind of tricky, though,
because we change how much we share about ourselves on different platforms. So overall, researchers agree that self-disclosure
does create intimacy and build relationships. But it’s important to remember that there’s a time and a place for those sorts of deep conversations. Like, you can’t just start shouting things
about yourself at people. There’s actually research showing that the receptiveness and responsiveness of whoever’s listening to your self-disclosures is really important. A 2004 study of 98 couples found that it really mattered when someone felt like their self-disclosures were being heard by their partners. Specifically, it increased how much the bond was strengthened when their partner shared stuff. And another study found that wanting to be close to someone was enough to create anticipatory feelings of closeness—even before the self-disclosures started. So yes, people who answer those 36 questions can fall in love, but you shouldn’t count on them to do the trick. Really, this procedure is just a cool tool to help scientists better understand these weird, messy, beautiful things we call relationships. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow Psych, where we really value our relationships with everyone who watches and supports our videos—especially our Patreon patrons. We couldn’t do this without you! If you want to join our community and help
us out, you can go to patreon.com/scishow. [OUTRO ♪]

72 thoughts on “The Science of the 36 Questions That Help People Fall in Love

  • December 13, 2018 at 10:23 pm
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    This

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:24 pm
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    woaah

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:26 pm
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    There’s a musical about this with Johnathan Groff(King George in Hamilton and Melchior in Spring Awakening) called 36 questions and it’s absolutely amazing! I wish more people had heard of it

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:26 pm
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    People fall in love with those who have qualities that they are attracted to.

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:28 pm
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    There are so many ways to 'fall in love' and so many sayings as well. I guess it all depends on who the person is and what they are like.

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:31 pm
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    5 comment 50 view.

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:31 pm
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    How close are they? Easy, use a tape measure.

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:33 pm
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    "Would you like to know the size of my…"

    "…bank account balance?"

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:34 pm
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    Damn i was really hoping that this would help me:(

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:38 pm
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    And once again it is proven that openness and communication are the ground that relationships are build upon.

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:41 pm
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    Yep, win a persons heart by being a good listener

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:41 pm
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    QQs: Why Can We Not Forget Things we Want or Need to Forget?

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:43 pm
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    This seems like a pretty "Duh" type of thing to talk about. However, I am very glad it is backed up by legitimate science and peer-backed experiments.

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:53 pm
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    I was expecting a Match.com sponsorship plug in somewhere in here.

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:59 pm
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    Are you a real psych doctor or you're just that good????!!!

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  • December 13, 2018 at 10:59 pm
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    "Just because of who was taking the class" or maybe because more people are openly sapphic (women attracted to women) than achillean? (Same concept, but for men)

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  • December 13, 2018 at 11:00 pm
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    An excellent bounty of data

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  • December 13, 2018 at 11:00 pm
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    If I felt something for someone that quickly, I would go check myself into an asylum.

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  • December 13, 2018 at 11:01 pm
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    I did this with my boyfriend…I watched his his eyes and saw the black actually get smaller then larger at the end. I looked up what that means as far as when people do that and it means they like , like like what they are looking at. We have been together for 4 years now 😍. Loved doing the test.

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  • December 13, 2018 at 11:11 pm
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    If you ask me about my personal life and we just met I’m more likely to lock up and not say anything.

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  • December 13, 2018 at 11:16 pm
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    Please never stop making videos like this…you are an amazing host. Super rational. Best at explaining thing. What your doing is so important,

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  • December 13, 2018 at 11:22 pm
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    Is there a science called Well-duh-ology?

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  • December 13, 2018 at 11:32 pm
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    What are those 36 questions?

    As someone who struggle bonding with people, I'm rather interested. Even as just an inspiration to build upon.
    I mostly fail to understand whether people are (or not) interested in pursuing a relation with me.

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  • December 13, 2018 at 11:48 pm
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    That's dumb. Anyone can ask personal questions and then "fall in love".

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  • December 14, 2018 at 12:06 am
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    I think "falling"in love is not what this is about,one falls by accident.

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  • December 14, 2018 at 12:21 am
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    Here they are, and trust me they re stupid;

    1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

    2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

    Continue reading the main story

    3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

    4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

    5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

    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?

    7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

    8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

    9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

    10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

    11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

    12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

    13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

    14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

    15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

    16. What do you value most in a friendship?

    17. What is your most treasured memory?

    18. What is your most terrible memory?

    19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

    20. What does friendship mean to you?

    21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

    22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

    23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

    24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

    Set III

    25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “

    26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “

    27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

    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.

    29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

    30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

    31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

    32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

    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?

    34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

    35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

    36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

    Those researchers need to come out of there caves and interact with real humans to know about the real behaviour.

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  • December 14, 2018 at 12:23 am
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    The way to get friends,for ya all nerds..

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  • December 14, 2018 at 12:26 am
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    So, just yelling all of my personal insecurities at the street corner is not effective relationship building? Noted.

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  • December 14, 2018 at 12:30 am
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    Everyone should check out 36 questions:the podcast musical… It's really really great!

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  • December 14, 2018 at 12:39 am
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    Is this still effective for exes?

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  • December 14, 2018 at 1:23 am
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    Ok.. how many questions for a one night stand, though?

    Asking for a friend.

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  • December 14, 2018 at 1:26 am
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    "You can't just start shouting things about yourself at people."

    I refute your claim with a resounding "I like turtles!"

    Your move, PsyShow.

    Reply
  • December 14, 2018 at 1:33 am
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    Oh, wow, 36 questions? What if I get some of them wrong? I better study before I try it.

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  • December 14, 2018 at 1:52 am
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    What are the 36 questions? Provide a link in the description please!

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  • December 14, 2018 at 2:42 am
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    Answering the questions in the intro:
    1: a boy I'm deeply in love with at school.
    2: depends on what for, and how famous.
    3: read the answer to question one again
    4: get a dog, and because my parents won't let me.
    5 a lot, but mostly saying "I love you" to, you guessed it, the boy in the first answer. And I haven't said that yet because the truth is… I'm afraid to.

    Reply
  • December 14, 2018 at 3:20 am
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    Mark2702

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  • December 14, 2018 at 3:23 am
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    So I can't just post this on my Facebook and get everyone to love me?
    LOL I'm doing it anyway.

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  • December 14, 2018 at 3:56 am
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    Me and my boyfriend did this on our 1st date. We've been together for 3 years now 🙂

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  • December 14, 2018 at 4:54 am
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    Makes me feel like Fu

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  • December 14, 2018 at 5:17 am
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    I would have dinner with Juuuuudith, okay?

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  • December 14, 2018 at 5:48 am
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    Weren't there 36 cubes in the sci-fi film "The Cube"? – I wondered where the inspiration for that one came from.

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  • December 14, 2018 at 5:48 am
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    I have a feeling the researchers only made the questions to get free wedding cake.

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  • December 14, 2018 at 6:43 am
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    u just need one: What is e?

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  • December 14, 2018 at 6:52 am
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    "..most psychology classes were 70% women"

    I've had classes where I was like 1 out of 3 or 4 guys in undergrad. Because of this I got to be on the school brochure for the psyc program.

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  • December 14, 2018 at 7:38 am
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    Wait, was Brit trying to make me fall in love with her at the beginning?

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  • December 14, 2018 at 10:23 am
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    Or, for me, 36 questions I try to avoid!

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  • December 14, 2018 at 11:21 am
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    Awkweird first date conversation. Check here yes □ no□ …

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  • December 14, 2018 at 1:24 pm
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    It's so creepy and weird that I just completed the episode of The Big Bang Theory which included the same topic of discussion and now I stumbled upon to this!!!!

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  • December 14, 2018 at 1:50 pm
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    "studying relationships is hard"…. bow chicka bow wow?

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  • December 14, 2018 at 2:50 pm
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    Actually 37 questions, two multiple part answers and 8 open ended essays. Couples never did this much communication in most marriages or analysis.

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  • December 14, 2018 at 3:00 pm
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    :0.24

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  • December 14, 2018 at 3:34 pm
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    The title is little misleading…
    But wait this is psych show.lol😂😂

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  • December 14, 2018 at 3:55 pm
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    She looks like captain marvel, anyone agrees?

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  • December 14, 2018 at 4:44 pm
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    i actually know people who shout at random people about themselves without any regard…yep, cringe and shame is a part of knowing such friends.

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  • December 14, 2018 at 5:05 pm
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    I LOVE LAMP!

    Reply
  • December 14, 2018 at 8:01 pm
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    I'd like to see you guys do a video on over sharing aka "sliming " and how/why it violates boundaries

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  • December 14, 2018 at 8:11 pm
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    I tried the 36 questions with my husband to try and help reignite some feelings of intimacy in our relationship but I didn't feel any closer to him by the end. It did help me understand my husband and myself a bit better. Unfortunately that understanding is that I am not with someone with whom I share my values. I mean, we're working through it. I know I won't get that original exciting lustful feeling back. But I hope we can reach a level of mutual respect at wich it will be tolerable to stay together.

    Reply
  • December 15, 2018 at 12:20 am
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    Is it biased though? 🤨 Engaging empathetic neurones will just merge or create a sense of sympathy for another. A disconnect of communication due to technology will create these vulnerabilities.

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  • December 15, 2018 at 1:13 am
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    you probably just helped me with my dissertation, oh my god, thank you.

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  • December 15, 2018 at 1:41 am
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    Hmmm, I didn’t find any of those questions to be the least bit interesting – maybe that explains why I’m still single. lol

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  • December 15, 2018 at 4:05 am
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    Okay, but what were the questions that made HATE each other?

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  • December 15, 2018 at 5:28 am
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    A litte Throught Experiment:

    Define a Goal over an existing System. The diffrence between the Goal and the actual state ist called the Problem. Then you think rationaly over a Solution as long as you dint find a good one. Boom! you got it! You generated a solution for a Problem. This Idea is so abstract that it literaly solves all Problems. Try it. And criticise it.

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  • December 15, 2018 at 10:50 pm
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    The study asked how much the participants liked each other, not if they loved each other. Saying that these questions help people fall in love is a bit of an exaggeration.

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  • December 16, 2018 at 7:48 am
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    And no control? So maybe just spending time together did it.

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  • December 17, 2018 at 12:35 am
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    Change your name to PsychShow

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  • December 17, 2018 at 6:26 pm
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    But hey, if you happen to know that you're both big nerds for psychology (or science in general) it may make the ideal first date~

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  • December 20, 2018 at 6:15 am
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    I have done the 36 questions with all my friends…I did not fall in love with any of them

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  • December 24, 2018 at 5:54 pm
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    This video is trash. All it says is that "this branch of psychology is not very effective." Write better scripts SciShow Psch.

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  • December 29, 2018 at 11:08 pm
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    So can you do a full series on making friends? My crippling social anxiety is preventing creating new steady friendships and it's killing me! 👻😂 sucks to be 25 and still have to try and learn to be human without melting from anxiety 🌋

    Reply
  • December 30, 2018 at 11:38 am
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    Brie Larson?

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  • May 26, 2019 at 3:40 pm
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    no such thing as scienx or helpx or clasx or aflllovx or not, doesn't matter

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  • May 26, 2019 at 3:45 pm
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    no such thing as personalx or increax or or intimax or led would lead to or small talkx or likx or would those feelingx or not, doesn't matter, ceputxetc, say, feel any no matter what and any be perfect

    Reply

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