A new study revealed that keeping secrets may be a good thing for people — depending on what the secret holds.
Professor Michael Slepian of Columbia University was the lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition via the American Psychological Association.
The study involved roughly 4,000 participants in five different experiments.
In one of the experiments, Slepian examined good news and whether people planned to discuss and share these good-news secrets with others — or keep them private.
The experiment found good news that was being kept a secret was more “energizing” than good news that was not a secret — leading people to want to keep the good news to themselves, according to Slepian.
Previous research on secrecy had suggested that keeping secrets is bad for our well-being, he said, as BBC Science Focus reported. “But this work has only examined keeping secrets that have negative implications for our lives.”
Summing up the new findings, Slepian told Fox News Digital, “Rather than being fatigued and burdened by the secret, people find positive secrets energizing.”
Slepian also found that “positive secret keeping” was motivated by “intrinsic reasons other than [the] secrets” themselves.
It was “autonomous choice” — as opposed to “choice based in external pressures,” the study stated.
Slepian said this is due to the anticipation about the secret being revealed eventually.
Most of the positive secrets that “people intend to reveal and anticipate the revelation [of] are exciting and energizing,” Slepian said.
The most surprising finding of the study, he added, was that even when positive secrets aren’t intended to be revealed — people still get excited about them.
“People feel more in control over their positive secrets,” he said — “and feeling in control is energizing.”
Slepian is an associate professor at the Columbia Business School.
He studies the psychology of secrets and how keeping secrets affects variables that govern social and organizational life, according to the university.
He is also the author of the book, “The Secret Life of Secrets: How Our Inner Worlds Shape Well-Being, Relationships and Who We Are.”
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