Do you pride yourself on your ability to keep a secret? Do your friends come to you if they want to get something off of their chest? Are your lips literally sealed and the keys are thrown away the moment someone’s confessed? According to science, at any given moment you’ve compiled quite a collection of skeletons in your closets, and it’s actually affecting the way you live your life.
A team of researchers led by Michael Slepian, professor of management at Columbia Business School, has shed some light upon the number of secrets that the average person is currently keeping. Slepian and company combined 13,000 real-life secrets that had already been recorded across 10 previous studies, to discover what we’re most likely to conceal. They broke these down into 38 common categories, ranging from cheating on a partner to petty theft to a secret hobby, then asked their 2,000 new participants if they were currently keeping a secret that fell under these umbrellas.
On average, participants were found to be keeping 13 out of the 38 common secrets—five of which they had never once shared with another person. Most prevalent amongst these super-secrets were romantic desire, sexual behavior and telling lies.
The study, recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, also turned its attention to how keeping secrets affect the way we behave and found that we’re actually more likely to concern ourselves with secrets when we’re alone, rather than when we’re trying to conceal them in social interactions.
“People have this curious way of talking about secrets as laying them down or unburdening them,” lead researcher Michael Slepian told The Atlantic.
“We found that when people were thinking about their secrets, they actually acted as if they were burdened by physical weight. It seems to have this powerful effect even when they’re not hiding a secret in the moment.”
“The bad news is that even when you don’t have to hide your secret, you might still frequently think about it to the detriment of your well-being,” Slepian said.
Loose lips sink ships, but secrets will keep you up at night.
The silver lining?
“But the good news is, if what’s most harmful is your thinking about the secret, if we could get you to think about it less, or change how you think about it, we could mitigate that negative effect.”
Ah, if only our brains had an off-switch.
This post was written by Katie Rossinesky. For more, check out our sister site Grazia.
NEXT: Want to know a secret that won’t burden you? Scroll through to learn some surprising facts about The Mickey Mouse Club.
Mickey Mouse Club Secrets Mmc Closeup
Remember the beloved original Mickey Mouse Club? You may have caught all the episodes (or all the reruns!), but we bet you've never known these strange insider secrets about the show.
Mickey Mouse Club Secrets Not Cute Kids
Casting directors looked for kids who weren't traditionally "cute" or too perfect-looking. In fact, Walt Disney specifically told them to go after "regular" kids--who didn't come with pushy stage mothers.
Mickey Mouse Club Secrets Annette Name Change
Shortly after Annette Funicello was hired, she approached Walt Disney and said she'd like to change her last name to something less ethnic. His answer was no.
Mickey Mouse Club Secrets Darlene Trouble
Originally thought to be the most talented of the Mousketeers, Darlene Gillespie slowly gained a reputation for being jealous and difficult to work with. Her career later stalled, which led to several run-ins with the law.
Mickey Mouse Club Secrets Lonnie Accidental Mouseketeer
Known as the "Accidental Mousketeer," Lonnie Burr first turned down Disney's offer to be on the show because didn't want to risk his already-established career. Then show producers called his mom, saying "If you don't accept our offer, your son will never work in this town again." He said yes.
Mickey Mouse Club Secrets Lonnie And Annette Necklace
Everyone knows Annette and Lonnie were sweethearts in real life, but not that he once gave her his ring on a chain as a gift--and her angry father made her return it! "If Joe’s looks could have killed, I would not have made it to age 13," Lonnie later said.
Mickey Mouse Club Secrets Jimmie Dodd
Band leader Jimmie Dodd was a talented musician and also a deeply religious man; some kids from the show later recalled that he frequently tried to teach them lessons about morality on set.
Mickey Mouse Club Secrets roy williams ears
It was Big Mousketeer Roy Williams's idea for everyone on the show to wear the Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears--which most cast members totally hated.
Mickey Mouse Club Secrets Uncle Walt
Walt Disney wanted the kids to call him "Uncle Walt," but most just couldn't do it, preferring instead to call him "Mr. Disney" because it felt more respectful.
Mickey Mouse Club Secrets Less Boys
Producers first wanted an even boy-to-girl ratio, but because the boys were behind in emotional maturity, many were quickly let go for acting up--so girls soon took over.
Mickey Mouse Club Secrets Tim Rooney
For instance, young Timmy Rooney and his brother Mickey Rooney, Jr. were both canned after wreaking havoc in the studio's paint department.
Mickey Mouse Club Secrets Dallas Fired Crying
Poor Dallas Johann, an original cast member, never made it past the promotional photo stage; he was fired because he cried whenever the cameras were focused on him.
Mickey Mouse Club Secrets Paul Peterson Fired
A young Mousketeer named Paul Peterson lasted just three weeks before being fired for punching a casting director in the stomach; he later had a starring role on The Donna Reed Show.
Mickey Mouse Club Then and Now
NEXT: The first cast of the Mickey Mouse Club is iconic! Find out what they're up to today.
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