Michael Slepian is the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Associate Professor of Leadership and Ethics at Columbia Business School, in the Management Division (pre-tenure). His program of research examines the intersection of secrecy, trust and motivation. Specifically, what are the consequences of secrecy, how do we judge and develop trust, and can we detect when others are holding back information from us? His research reveals that the real problem with secrecy seems not to be having to hide a secret, but have to live with it and think about it. Not only do people mind-wander to their secrets (outside of concealment contexts) far more often than they actively conceal secrets (within social interactions), but only the frequency of mind-wandering to secrets predicts lower well-being, not the frequency of actual concealment (see Slepian et al., 2017, JPSP). His ongoing research examines what leads us to trust others' with our secrets, and what leads those others to earn that trust. His research reveals that a large part of what leads people to be trusted by others is one's own expectations and prior expeirences (see Slepian & Ames, 2016, Psychological Science). Additionally, ongoing research investigates how the social, organizational and psychological dynamics around keeping versus revealing secrets influence variables that govern social and organizational life.
For more information see his publications
New theory paper on secrecy:
Slepian, M.L. (in press). A process model of having and keeping secrets. Psychological Review.
New research on diversity and inclusion:
Read our recent paper, which reveals that belonging and inclusion are two different experiences. While feeling excluded strongly relates to negative affect, feeling a lack of belonging strongly relates to feeling inauthentic.
Among those with a marginalized identity, they report experiencing an average of 11 identity threatening situations a week (of the 30 common identity threats listed below). We introduce the Identity Threats Questionnaire, which allows studying identity threat across diverse contexts, allowing for conclusions that generalize across situations and identities, rather than being constrained to studying one marginalized identity at a time.
For more information: Slepian, M.L. & Jacoby-Senghor, D. S. (2021). Identity threats in everyday life: Distinguishing belonging from inclusion. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12, 392-406.