“If you’ve ever wondered why we keep secrets and what motivates us to spill them, look no further. Michael Slepian has spent the past decade studying the psychology of secrets, and is ready to reveal his findings to the world.”—Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again
“The Secret Life of Secrets gracefully blends engaging stories with compelling science.”—Sonja Lyubomirsky, University of California professor and author of The How of Happiness
Think of a secret that you’re keeping from others. It shouldn’t take long; behavioral scientist Michael Slepian finds that, on average, we are keeping as many as thirteen secrets at any given time. His research involving more than 50,000 participants from around the world shows that the most common secrets include lies we’ve told, ambitions, addictions, mental health challenges, hidden relationships, and financial struggles.
Our secrets can weigh heavily upon us. Yet the burden of secrecy, Slepian argues, rarely stems from the work it takes to keep a secret hidden. Rather, the weight of our secrets comes from carrying them alone, without the support of others. Whether we are motivated to protect our reputation, a relationship, a loved one’s feelings, or some personal or professional goal, one thing is clear: Holding back some part of our inner world is often lonely and isolating. But The Secret Life of Secrets shows you that it doesn’t have to be.
Filled with fresh insight into one of the most universal—yet least understood—aspects of human behavior, The Secret Life of Secrets sheds a fascinating new light on questions like: At what age do children develop the cognitive capacity for secrecy? Do all secrets come with the same mental load? How can we reconcile our secrets with our human desires to relate, connect, and be known? When should we confess our secrets? Who makes for the ideal confidant? And can keeping certain types of secrets actually enhance our well-being?
Drawing on over a decade of original research, The Secret Life of Secrets reveals the surprising ways that secrets pervade our lives, and offers science-based strategies that make them easier to live with. The result is a rare window into the inner workings of our minds, our relationships, and our sense of who we are.
About the Author
Michael Slepian is the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Associate Professor of Leadership and Ethics at Columbia University. A recipient of the Rising Star Award from the Association for Psychological Science, he is the leading expert on the psychology of secrets. Slepian has authored more than fifty articles on secrecy, truth, and deception. His research has been covered by The New York Times,The Atlantic,The New Yorker,The Economist,The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, NPR, and more.
“The Secret Life of Secrets gracefully blends engaging stories with compelling science. In the secrets that you carry, you will discover a hidden self.”—Sonja Lyubomirsky, University of California professor and author of The How of Happiness
“Everybody has them, keeps them, betrays them, and wonders about them. Wonder no more. This delightful and fascinating new book reveals the hidden psychology of our secrets.”—Daniel Gilbert, Harvard professor and bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness
“We all keep secrets, but it turns out that our intuitions of what to do with them are often wrong. The Secret Life of Secrets sheds light on why we conceal, and the power of confessing, confiding, and letting go.”—Jonah Berger, Wharton professor and bestselling author of The Catalyst and Contagious
“In this eye-opening and engrossing debut, Michael Slepian, one of psychology’s most eminent rising stars, weaves cutting-edge science with captivating stories to explain a topic equal parts familiar and mysterious: keeping secrets. Entertaining, informative, and scientifically precise, this is nonfiction writing at its best.”—Ethan Kross, bestselling author of Chatter
“Michael Slepian reveals the universal nature of our secrets, how they relate to our relationships and well-being—offering profound insights that help us make better choices.”—Sheena Iyengar, Columbia University professor and author of The Art of Choosing
“The Secret Life of Secrets is that rare book that combines original research on the costs of keeping secrets with poignant stories of how sharing secrets can deepen relationships and transform lives.”—Frank Warren, founder of PostSecret