Do you have a secret? Like yes, we know you do. How did we know? Obviously, because you’re not going to tell us if we ask you, so you do have a secret. Smart guess aren’t we? We’re The Factionary for crying out loud, so knowing stuff is our thing. Hello! But we don’t know exactly how many secret you’re hiding though. According to a study, you might be hiding 13 secrets — five of ‘em you’ll never tell us. Is that true?
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Do You Keep Secrets?
In a 2017 study, researchers from Columbia Business School found that the average person likely has around 13 secrets on their minds — five of which they’ll never tell a soul. According to the researchers, it isn’t the number of secrets you keep that’s significant. Instead, it’s the burden of those secrets weigh on you psychologically, that matters.
For the study, the researchers recruited three groups of 200 participants each, and asked them if they were keeping secrets, not what their secrets were, though, but if they had any. Obviously. The researchers asked them if they had secrets related to 38 common categories — including things like lying, drug use, theft, and sexual infidelity. The researchers found that, on average, each participant was keeping roughly 13 secrets — and about five secrets they were never likely to tell anyone about.
Your Secrets Are Weighing You Down
But there’s more: Your secrets might feel like a mental weight, but the study suggested that they’re more than that.
“They actually acted as if they were burdened by physical weight.”
Michael Slepian, a professor at Columbia Business School, and the study’s lead author told The Atlantic that when a subject thought about their secrets. This powerful effect occurred even when the subject wasn’t hiding a particular secret at that moment.
In addition, your secrets don’t only weigh down your thoughts; previously in a 2012 study, Slepian found that “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.”
How bizarre, huh? What this means is that, even when you’re not really hiding a secret, just thinking about it make matters worse on your mental health as well as your physical health. So here’s the deal: Just let it go!
Secrets: Your Mental ‘Whac-A-Moles’
A more recent paper by Slepian, it notes that our minds are constantly attempting to resolve issues, or reach goals we’ve yet to achieve. But here’s the catch: A secret is a goal that can never be accomplished. The Atlantic describes secrets as “’Whac-A-Moles’ in our thoughts — chattering little rodents that won’t stay down when you hammer them.” But Slepian and his team hope to lift the weight of our secrets with their research.
“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,” they concluded. “Thus, as with physical burdens, secrets weigh people down.”
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sat, Apr 20, 2019.