About KeepingSecrets.org

The data presented on KeepingSecrets.org, collected by researchers at Columbia University, comes from a large survey of over 10,000 individuals across the U.S., people of all races, genders, and ages (18 and older).

KeepingSecrets.org is a project maintained by Professor Michael Slepian of Columbia University.

Michael Slepian is an Assistant Professor in the Management Division of Columbia Business School. He has authored more than 40 publications in psychology’s top journals, including 8 recent papers on the science of secrecy. Slepian was awarded the Association for Psychological Science Rising Star Award, which “recognizes outstanding psychological scientists in the earliest stages of their research career post-PhD whose innovative work has already advanced the field.” His work has been covered by many outlets including The New York Times, TIME Magazine, Scientific American, NPR, Business Insider, BBC, The Atlantic, and The Wall Street Journal.

As part of the ongoing KeepingSecrets.org project, Michael Slepian studies the psychology of secrets and how keeping secrets affects variables that govern social and organizational life, particularly trust and motivation. He has studied the consequences of keeping secrets, including how they change our behavior, judgments and actions. He studies the effects of both personal and professional secrets for the individual secret keeper as well as whether we can tell when others are concealing information from us.

The paper about the kinds of secrets people can be found by clicking the pdf icon below:


Slepian, M.L., Chun, J.S., & Mason, M.F. (2017). The experience of secrecy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

To learn more about other aspects of secrecy, see the papers below:


Slepian, M.L., Halevy, N., & Galinsky, A.D. (in press). The solitude of secrecy: Thinking about secrets evokes motivational conflict and feelings of fatigue. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.


Slepian, M.L., Kirby, J.N., & Kalokerinos, E.K. (in press). Shame, guilt, and secrets on the mind. Emotion.


Slepian, M.L., & Moulton-Tetlock, E. (in press). Confiding secrets and well-being. Social Psychological and Personality Science.


Liu, Z. & Slepian, M.L. (2018). Secrecy: Unshared realities. Current Opinion in Psychology, 23, 124-128.


Slepian, M.L., & Greenaway, K.H. (2018). The benefits and burdens of keeping others' secrets. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 78, 220-232.


Slepian, M.L., & Kirby, J.N. (2018). To whom do we confide our secrets? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44, 1008–1023.


Slepian, M.L., & Bastian, B. (2017). Truth or punishment: Secrecy and punishing the self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43, 1596-1611.

For more information, visit www.gsb.columbia.edu/slepian

For any inquires, please contact Michael Slepian, email: michael.slepian@columbia.edu