Michael Slepian is fascinated by the secrets people keep – and how keeping secrets affects us.
He first studied the burdens of secrets.
In his 2012 study, he found, “People who recalled, were preoccupied with, or suppressed an important secret estimated hills to be steeper, perceived distances to be farther, indicated that physical tasks would require more effort, and were less likely to help others with physical tasks. The more burdensome the secret and the more thought devoted to it, the more perception and action were influenced in a manner similar to carrying physical weight. Thus, as with physical burdens, secrets weigh people down.”
Now, in a new study, Slepian, a professor of management at Columbia Business School explored the experience of secrets. He and his co-researchers identified 34 categories of secrets (the research identified 38 broad types) including addiction, self-harm, lies, finances, hating friends (while pretending not to), theft, and more.
They explore how the “diversity of secrets people have and the harmful effects of spontaneously thinking about those secrets in both recall tasks and in longitudinal designs, analyzing more than 13,000 secrets across our participant samples, with outcomes for relationship satisfaction, authenticity, well-being, and physical health.”
Excerpt from PsychCentral