No one likes to think that their partner or friend is hiding anything from them – whether that’s something small like eating the last brownie in the tin, or having an affair.
But life isn’t fair, is it? And people do hide things from one another – and some particular things more often than others.
Anew study at the Columbia Business School – ‘The Experience of Secrecy’ – examined 13,000 secrets throughout 10 separate studies in order to look at the impact holding secrets has on our health.
In the first three studies, the researchers provided participants with 38 common categories of secrets, asking them to pick which were relevant to them.
To make sure it was all accurate and that the contributors felt comfortable revealing their secrets, they did the whole process on an anonymous online forum.
And they formed a list of the most frequently-held secrets,.
First on the list was ‘extra-relational thoughts’ – about having some kind of relationship with another person while already in a relationship – followed by ‘sexual behaviour’ which included sexual fantasies or habits such as masturbation.
Next up was telling any kind of lie, then romantic desire (having a crush while single) or violating someone’s trust.
And theft, surprisingly, was next on the list – though the authors noted that this could count as any kind of thievery such as being given too much change at a supermarket and not mentioning it.
‘Emotional infidelity’ such as flirting was pretty high at number seven, while having an ‘ambition’ or secret plan came next before a family secret.
Leaving secrets regarding finances at ninth, which is unexpectedly low, no?
Importantly, the study found that keeping these secrets isn’t doing us any good. In fact, obsessing over the secret – rather than the actual act of concealing it – is what can lower our well being.
The top 12 secrets
1. Extra-relational thoughts
2. Sexual behaviour
4. Romantic desire
5. Violating trust
7. Emotional infidelity
8. A family detail
10. Physical discontent
11. Social discontent
12. Romantic discontent
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