The science of love has focused primarily on its experience in romantic relationships and other strong ties. However, people’s networks include many others with whom loving interactions can be experienced. In fact, many people have more interactions on a daily basis with weak ties (casual acquaintances) than with strong ties. Therefore, it is important to conduct scientific investigations of the potential for loving interactions between people initially becoming acquainted, which is the goal of this project.
With the use primarily of a Fasts Friends procedure (a structured self-disclosure task that enhances closeness in brief interactions), the potential for loving and impactful connections in getting-acquainted dyads will be examined. More specifically, the research will focus on identifying factors that contribute to getting-acquainted interactions that are characterized by positive emotional experiences (e.g., liking, compassion, understanding), feelings of social integration and belonging, and positive self changes (e.g., self-worth), including over modern communication technologies such as video channels.
These goals will be accomplished first by analyzing a compiled data set from several past lab studies and then by conducting new social interaction studies with additional measures. Several papers will be written from the compiled data set and from the new studies conducted during the grant period. Furthermore, integrative reviews will be written for more general readers. One variable that will be considered as a factor that contributes to compassionate first interactions is the virtue, propensity to experience compassionate love for strangers. The published findings from this research and the integrative review papers that will be written will help move the field forward in addressing important questions about the role of other-focused, love-related experiences in getting-acquainted processes and weak-tie interactions.