What Americans Keep Secret — and Why

Scientific American delves into the dark depths of the human mind.

June 3, 2017 5:00 am
Why is it so hard to keep a secret?
Why is it so hard to keep a secret? (Getty)

It’s no longer a secret as to the what we keep certain things from others and why we do it. The short answer as is cheating, sex, and lies, in that order.

As for the why, and how we feel about it—that gets a little more complex.

Scientific American recently explored multiple studies that attempt to find insight on human beings and their secrets. Published by Columbia Business School psychologist Michael Slepian and his colleagues, the studies asked more than 1,200 Americans both online and in person to divulge the behavior and identities that we as people are most likely to keep close to the chest.

For ease of consumption, researchers yanked data from 600 participants and illustrated the 10 behaviors most frequently kept quiet. Thoughts of cheating on a partner, followed by sexual behavior and having lied to someone ranked as the secrets most likely to be held from everyone. Subsequently, having romantic desires about someone while single, violating someone’s trust, and theft ranked next on the list. Toward the bottom of the ranking came nonsexual infidelity, such as flirting, ambitions or goals, and finally family and financial details.

What may come as more surprising to readers, however, is the way that keeping a secret made people feel.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.