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The results are in: keeping good news a secret may literally be good for you, scientists have found.
As the American Psychological Association writes, new research suggests that despite the popular conception that secret-keeping is bad for one’s psychiatric health, drawing out the period when you keep good news private appears to help feel “more energized and alive.”
“Decades of research on secrecy suggest it is bad for our well-being, but this work has only examined keeping secrets that have negative implications for our lives,” Dr. Michael Slepian, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of business at Columbia said in the APA press release. “Is secrecy inherently bad for our well-being or do the negative effects of secrecy tend to stem from keeping negative secrets?”
The researchers behind the new paper, which was published in the APA’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, have not yet completed their study and analysis of the net benefits of secret-keeping — but what they have found thus far sounds pretty compelling.
One group of participants in the survey were asked to conduct a fairly simple thought experiment: imagine finding out some good news, such as a desired pregnancy or job promotion, and then imagine not being able to immediately tell your partner about the news and instead having to keep it a secret until you’re both back at home at the end of the workday — either to surprise them, or because they were unable to reach the partner for whatever reason.
While most participants who kept their good news secret for a period of time reported feelings of being energized and “enlivened,” those who chose to keep a secret intentionally as a surprise reported feeling the most excited by the prospect.
“People sometimes go to great lengths to orchestrate revealing a positive secret to make it all the more exciting. This kind of surprise can be intensely enjoyable, but surprise is the most fleeting of our…
“The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of like is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give.” —William Arthur Ward