Secretive people psychology
This prospective study explored whether keeping a major secret, self-concealment i. The showed that the process of keeping a secret actually predicted fewer symptoms, whereas the personality variable of self-concealment predicted more symptoms at Time 2, even when the analyses controlled for social support.
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Can I tell you a secret? Being confided in is a double-edged sword, says social psychologist Michael Slepian, PhD, an associate professor of leadership and ethics at Columbia Business School who studies the psychology of secrets.
Secrets are a universal human phenomenon. Almost everyone has something to hide though, of course, not all secrets are of the deep, dark variety. Slepian got his start studying secrets indirectly.
Digging into the secrecy literature, he found that most existing research focused on the effort involved in keeping a secret. Typical studies looked at interactions between two people while one of them tried to hide something from the other.
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Slepian and his colleagues started with a series of studies to sketch the basic outlines of secrecy, focusing first on secrets people keep from others versus secrets that others confide in them Journal of Personality and Social PsychologyVol. They identified 38 people of secrets that psychology keep about themselves, ranging from infidelity and illegal behavior to pregnancy and planned surprises for others.
Some secrets are harder to put out of our minds than others. They surveyed a diverse sample of 1, people on Mechanical Turk secretive more than 6, of their secrets and found that people dwelled more on secrets that made them feel ashamed than on those that made them feel guilty EmotionVol.
While shame and guilt are both negative emotions, they have important differences, he says.
It can make you feel helpless or powerless. So how can we reduce the shame? Having a secret can feel exhausting.
In fact, it is exhausting. The researchers found that people felt both more fatigued and more alone when they recalled their secrets than when they recalled the undisclosed information. Not everyone is inclined to confide in others. Slepian and postdoctoral researcher Sarah Ward, PhD, are studying how personality differences might make people more or less likely to share secrets.
A study into secretive human behavior
Ward and Slepian are also finding that particularly polite people may be more reticent to divulge the skeletons in their closets. Slepian and his collaborators are exploring secretive aspects of secrecy as well. When people avoid talking about a topic because of privacy, such as family or financial issues, they tend to feel more anxious and stay quiet, Sun says.
He advises one primary graduate student, but he also co-advises graduate students and mentors postdoctoral fellows across the division. The multidisciplinary business perspective also means that Slepian keeps one eye turned toward the practical applications of his research. Some of his psychology research, for example, is exploring the peoples of having to keep secrets on behalf of an employer.
Early suggest that work secrets, like personal secrets, can be both good and bad.
Is keeping a secret or being a secretive person linked to psychological symptoms?
On the other, keeping that secret can feel like a burden. Secrecy: Unshared Realities Liu, Z. Slepian, M. How to date in a distanced world. Hurt by the ones we love.
Happy couples: How to keep your relationship healthy. How close relationships help us thrive. up now ». Lab work.
A bad idea that colors much of life.
Parenting, Families, Relationships. Cite this.
Weir, K. Exposing the secretive world of secrets. Monitor on Psychology51 6. The burden of secrecy Having a secret can feel exhausting. Related and recent How to date in a distanced world Psychologists offer insights on the pros and cons of dating during a pandemic. And for many people, it is changing the way we psychology. Happy couples: How to keep your relationship healthy Keep your people partnership in good working order by talking openly, keeping it interesting and seeking help if needed.
How close relationships help us thrive Work in the Close Relationships Lab examines how adult attachment works and how we benefit from it.
How to become less-guarded and open up to people
Research foci The secrecy lab at Columbia Business School is: Studying how concealing a secret affects well-being. Examining who keeps secrets, and what they keep secrets about. Investigating how divulging a secret can improve well-being and build trust.