GOOD

Tell Everyone! Science Says There’s A Physical Cost To Keeping Secrets

Obsessing over secrets can make you see the world as if you were carrying extra weight

image via (cc) flickr user girius

There’s an old schoolyard rhyme: “Secrets, secrets, are no fun // Secrets, secrets, hurt someone.”


As it turns out, the “somone” being hurt is actually the secret-holder. That’s because, as a new study led by Columbia University professor Michael Slepian points out, the act of keeping a secret exerts a physical toll on the person holding it in. In “Exploring the secrecy burden: Secrets, preoccupation, and perceptual judgments,” Slepian, along with colleagues from Stanford and Wake Forest Universities, demonstrate how the act of keeping a secret can have an effect similar to that of carrying a weight when it comes to matters of perception and focus.

image via (cc) flickr user stevendepolo

Slepian’s study, explains a Columbia University press release, used what is known as a “Hill Slant” test. Study participants were divided into two groups: One group was told to focus on “preoccupying secrets, the things–whether as significant as sexual identity, or as mundane as a persistent bad habit–which take up a considerable portion of the subject’s brain-power, as they obsess more and more over them. The other group focused on “non-preoccupying” secrets which were of little daily concern, regardless of the magnitude of the secret itself. Both groups were then shown a picture of a hill, and asked to judge the steepness of its slope. When the researchers reviewed the data:

The results were consistent: those participants who were asked to recall a preoccupying secret judged the hill to be steeper, and therefore more forbidding, just as if they were lugging a heavy load.

In other words, the data indicates that the more a person is focused on keeping a secret, the more their physical perception mimics that of someone carrying additional weight. The key here is not the actual secret itself, but rather the degree to which the person keeping the secret spends time and energy thinking about their confidential knowledge. As Slepian puts it:

The more you feel preoccupied by a secret and are thinking about it, the more you are using your personal resources — cognitive and motivational — the less energy you feel you have available to pursue other tasks. You see things around you as more challenging. It’s the same outcome as when you are carrying a heavy burden.

Given that explanation, perhaps there’s a negative feedback loop at play here as well: The more a secret is obsessed over, the more one views the world as challenging, leading to an even more skewed perception of the initial secret… lather, rinse, repeat.

image via (cc) flickr user microwavedboy

Medical Daily points out that a 2014 study, also by Slepian contains a(n obvious) solution for those for whom obsessing over a secret may be taking a physical toll. Simply put, Slepian and his colleagues suggest spilling the beans. They argue that the act of sharing a secret allows a person a respite from obsessing over it, which in turn reverses any negative perceptive effects focusing on that secret might cause.

None of this is to say that everyone should immediately start airing all their dirty laundry immediately. Rather, it’s important to understand how, and why, keeping secrets might affect the way we experience the world.

And now that you know what secrets can do to you, it’s probably smart not to keep this information to yourself. Spread the word - you’ll feel better.

[via Medical Daily]

Articles
Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less
Science
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
test
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less
Health