How Positive Secrets Reshape Our Inner Worlds: New Study


A recent study suggests that keeping positive secrets can be energizing, contrary to previous beliefs about the impact of secrecy on well-being. Let’s learn more!

Why Keeping Positive Secrets Can Be Good For You

A recent study led by Professor Michael Slepian at Columbia University suggests that keeping secrets can have positive effects on individuals, challenging the conventional belief that secrecy is detrimental to well-being.

Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition by the American Psychological Association, the research involved approximately 4,000 participants across five distinct experiments.

One experiment focused on the impact of keeping positive news a secret. Professor Slepian found that good news, when kept confidential, generated a sense of energy and excitement in individuals, prompting them to withhold the positive information rather than sharing it.

This counters previous research that primarily explored the negative implications of secret-keeping on well-being, as reported by BBC Science Focus.

Professor Slepian emphasized that, contrary to expectations, individuals did not experience fatigue or burden from positive secrets; instead, they found such secrets to be invigorating.

The study identified “positive secret keeping” as being motivated by intrinsic factors rather than external pressures, characterized by an autonomous choice to keep the secret.

According to Slepian, the anticipation of eventually revealing the positive secret contributes to the energizing effect. Moreover, the research revealed that people feel more in control of their positive secrets, emphasizing the empowering nature of maintaining such confidences.

One notable finding was that even when individuals did not intend to disclose their positive secrets, they still experienced excitement about them.

Slepian highlighted that this unexpected enthusiasm is rooted in the perception of control over the secret, reinforcing the notion that feeling in control contributes to a sense of energy.

Professor Slepian, who specializes in the psychology of secrets and their impact on social and organizational aspects of life, expressed surprise at these findings.

His research delves into how secret-keeping influences various variables governing social and organizational dynamics. Notably, he is the author of the book titled “The Secret Life of Secrets: How Our Inner Worlds Shape Well-Being, Relationships, and Who We Are.”

In summary, the study challenges the prevailing notion that secrecy is uniformly detrimental to well-being. Instead, it suggests that positive secrets, kept for autonomous reasons and with the anticipation of eventual revelation, can be energizing and contribute to a sense of control for individuals.

These findings offer a nuanced perspective on the psychology of secret-keeping, shedding light on the complex interplay between secrets and well-being.

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