A few weeks ago, I was staring a strange man in the eyes during an energetic coaching session. I’d met him just a few hours before; like nearly all men I’ve known for a few hours, he was nice but average, unstimulating; I’d introduced myself with a polite handshake and didn’t think much of it. This is why now, locked in eye contact, it was absolutely
This concept can actually be applied more broadly. Without taking regular inventories, goal seeking behavior (be it for sex, relationships, employment, possessions, etc.) will turn in upon itself. People will begin to mask their own wants and desires to project outwardly what they believe is needed to achieve the goal. They fail to connect that the masking may be a sign that they actually are no longer truly interested in the goal. Then, when they achieved said goal, they will wonder why they are still dissatisfied and fail to connect that the person they are internally was not the person they had to project.
Long winded way of conveying the trite adage, "Be true to yourself." But trite is trite for a reason.
Hi. Long time Twitter follower, brand new subscriber... indeed, brand new subscriber because of your tweet linking to this Substack post.
I write mostly to ask this question: Given your keen interest in this esoteric-sounding (to me at least) coached "energy work" practice, have you yet looked into the social psychology literature about "experimental interventions" to "elicit short-term closeness"?
I ask since many such studies do include what I think is generally called an "eye contact intervention" taking the form of asking each pair of subjects to sit silently and look into each other's eyes for usually 4-5 minutes, with instructions they should endeavor to complete the whole time period and be non-judgmental about whatever feelings arise, with a nod toward the fact this may feel very awkward.
I think that would be a good baseline off which to judge how much the coached "energy work" helps or not, even though any rigorous comparison will be massively confounded by the fact just participating in this coached "energy work" is selecting for people both interested in esoteric(ish?) practices in general and seduction in particular. My own first Occam's Razor-esque cut on the primary thing happening in this practice is that the coaching both:
i) helps the people gazing into each other's eyes stop giving off the presumably offputting signs of insecurity and doubt that even confident people might give in this definitely-not-done-in-daily-life-for-this-length-of-time practice even if you're a freakin' hypnotist as your day job, and...
ii) ... keeps the people gazing at each other for a long time after they begin to get the hang of it and maybe kinda "break the ice" / distract a little from all the definitely-being-elicited "escalating self-disclosure" going on.
<<< Attention Conservation Notice: Well, that's the main bit. What follows is a hopefully helpful guide to the relevant psych literature from me, an educated layperson. But again, the above bit is the key part of this about-to-become-even-longer comment. >>>
Now, I must say I'm an educated layperson. I have no psychology training. I'm just a theoretical physicist who's hopefully not conforming to the stereotype of the annoying theoretical-physicist-butting-into-other-fields perfectly depicted in https://xkcd.com/793/ You can see [endnote 1] for a tad more explanation on my background, but here's probably one sentence that, like a picture, is worth 1,000 words: I became aware of this literature through the highly popular and extremely clickbait-ish 2015 _New York Times_ article "To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This"
(As you can see from the URL, it ran in the Style section, not the Science section.)
I bring up this article since, IMHO, it's a good pop-science-ish place to start for anyone who's never heard of this social psych literature. It remains good IMHO even though the article not only has the already-mentioned blatantly clickbait-ish framing, but more specifically, it somewhat misleadingly [endnote 2] combines its discussion of the following two commonly studied interpersonal-closeness-promoting interventions:
A) Structured questionnaires meant to elicit "escalating self-disclosure" between the pair of subjects taking part, here the one taken from one of the major papers in the field [and I dare say *justifiably* major in terms of being a well designed study find a large effect, see endnote 3 if you want more]
Arthur Aron, Edward Melinat, Elaine N. Aron, Robert Darrin Vallone, & Renee J. Bator (1997). The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23(4), 363–377. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167297234003 [open access]
B) The aformentioned "eye contact intervention"
With a little Google-Scholar-ing off the lead of that (Aron, et al. 1997) reference, I'm willing to say that this article published this year...
Caroline Zygar-Hoffmann, Lara Cristoforo, Lisa Wolf, & Felix D. Schönbrodt; Eliciting Short-Term Closeness in Couple Relationships With Ecological Momentary Interventions. Collabra: Psychology 5 January 2022; 8 (1): 38599. https://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.38599 [open access]
... should serve at the very least as a good guide to the literature since (Aron, et al. 1997), including studies treating not only the questionnaire and eye-contact interventions, but also "memory sharing" interventions (i.e., share narratives of specific episodes of your life rather than statements of your preferences) and "life achievement" interventions (i.e., participate in some partner-building or larger-team-building game, physical activity --- no, not *that* kind of physical activity... they need human-subject-IRB approval, for Pete's sake ;) --- and such together).
1. Shortish --- and hopefully witty and urbane statement --- of why you might trust my judgment despite my admitted laypersonhood (laypersonality? IMHO, at least one of those 2 words should enter the English lexicon): I'm not a social psychologist. I don't even have an undergrad psych course in my past. I'm just a quantum computing theorist who procrastinates wayyyy too much by reading a tremendous amount from other fields, both pop science and actual academic research. I admittedly do NOT procrastinate so much that I doublecheck their statistical methodology [though see endnote 3 for some specifics pertinent to (Aron, et al. 1997)]. That's to say I'm not Scott Alexander or anything like that... and maybe I'd feel better about myself if I were since then all this procrastination would be defensibly intellectually constructive and not just momentarily anxiety-defence-mechanism-effective. [Endnote-to-this-endnote: Did I include this endnote out of attempt to elicit interpersonal closeness through "escalating self-disclosure"? Maybe... though I do swear a major motivation was to help you, Aella, and the rest of the readers judge just how big a figurative grain of salt they should take this (I hope) seemingly well-informed comment.]
2. I say the NYT article "somewhat misleadingly combines" these two since I, at least, upon reading the article thought the author meant both (A) escalating self-disclosure questionnaires and (B) minutes-of-silent-eye-contact were studied in that Aron, et al. article, when in fact only (A) was. And, of course, the NYT article did flagrantly clickbait-ishly write the article with the angle that (Aron, et al. 1997) was explicitly about eliciting romantic attraction as opposed to proper, academically-respectable and human-subjects-IRB-approvable "intellectual closeness". [To be fair, though, the (Aron, et al. 1997) article does amusingly include this giddy parenthetical "(including one pair who married!)" in explaining how they were motivated to do the studies for the paper after hearing their preliminary work throughout the 1990s seemed to lead to at-least-months-long increases in reported closeness among the subjects... though I'm guessing that might just mean that paired subjects, almost assuredly undergrads, became friends for the rest of the semester.]
3. I think the assessment that (Aron, et al. 1997) is a "major" paper is justified because:
(i) the claimed effect size was large as academic psych interventions go in the sense the mean interpersonal closeness measured for the experimental intervention population as a whole was +0.88 standard deviations above the mean interpersonal closeness reported in the control population. (Anything over 0.8 standard deviations is generally acclaimed as a large effect.)
(ii) moreover, (Aron, et al. 1997) claims no statistically significant diminuition of the increased closeness effect even after doing comparisons based on whether the pairs had (a) major disagreements in their attitudes probed by the questionnaires, (b) low *expectation* that this intervention would increase closeness, (c) low *preference* that this intervention would elicit more closeness
(iii) (Aron, et al. 1997) claims that, yes, they checked to make sure they had adequate statistical power to do (ii).
Personal honesty compels to say, however, that I must answer no to all the following questions:
--- Did I personally doublecheck the questionnaire (Aron, et al. 1997) used for self-report for sense of interpersonal closeness in (i) seems well-formed? No.
-- Or personally doublecheck that the statistical tests in (ii) are well-chosen? Again, no.
-- Or personally doublecheck the claim of adequate statistical power (iii) is justified given those tests in (ii)? Nope.
-- Or finally, did I doublecheck to see the study ever had a high-quality direct replication? Yup, you guessed it, no I did not. :)
=== If you've read to the end of this, thanks! It makes me feel like my procrastination was intellectually constructive! ;) ===
By the way, the book “Models: Attracting Women Through Honesty” by Mark Manson is very similar to this philosophically (though without the energy concepts and coaching techniques.)
We did something like this in Landmark, and being familiar with some pickup artist tricks I recognized it. We (100 or so of the participants) faced another and had to stare at their face for a full 5 minutes. We also did drills where we communicated while being ‘fully present.’
I’m interested to know what style of coaching you would call this.
Just be-ing seems to be the key from my interpretation of your observations. Be-ing present, self aware, and the ability to articulate that state to the person you're with.
I'm wondering what you were expecting to achieve. You bring up pickup artists by way of contrast. Contrived versus organic