There are some secrets you keep that are perfectly harmless. Like that homemade cake you brought to your mother-in-law's dinner that was actually store-bought or the surprise birthday party you're planning for a friend. Others, not so much. Researchers from Columbia Business School have revealed some fascinating (and not-so-great) information about the secrets we keep and the results might just surprise you.
For the study, researchers analyzed more than 13,000 secrets from ten previous studies and came up with 38 common categories, ranging from cheating on a test to financial falsehoods to infidelity. What they found was that the average person is holding on to 13 secrets at any one time, five of which they've never told a living soul. Researchers also discovered that the most common secrets people are hiding are ones from their partner. Yikes.
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So what are these secrets that we're staying so tight-lipped about? In each of the studies that researchers looked at, thinking about having an affair, sexual acts, lying, and romantic desire consistently topped the list of secrets that participants didn't share with anyone else. Next in descending order was: a time in the past where they violated someone's trust, stealing something, being unfaithful emotionally, keeping a goal or ambition to themselves, details about their family's history, financial information, being unhappy about something physical about themselves, not satisfied about a friend or social life, and being unhappy in a romantic relationship. Double yikes.
When it comes to secret keeping, previous research has shown that it's linked to anxiety, depression and poor physical health. The best way to stop thinking about a secret? Tell someone. Honesty is the best policy, after all. Except for when it comes to that chocolate cake you "baked." For that, our lips are sealed.