We surveyed thousands of people to learn what secrets they commonly keep.

See how your secrets compare to people of your age and gender, and explore secrets commonly kept by other people.

For more information about the science of secrecy and the source of this data, visit Columbia University Professor Michael Slepian's website.


    To see a description of the secrets, see the bottom of the page. Use the blue menus above to explore different combinations of gender and age.
  • How to read this graph:
    Percent of people with the secret
    % who do not tell anyone
    % who tell at least one person

    Notice how much of the bar is taken up by the dark blue. Many people secretly told a lie in the past, but that experience is not so secret (more than half the time, people tell someone else about this secret). The secret we keep most to ourself (where the largest amount of the bar is in dark blue) is "extra-relational thoughts" - having a thought about having relations with another person (while already in a relationship). Compare that to "drug use," a secret that when people have they often tell other people (most of the bar is light blue).
common secrets
rare secrets
jpg jpg
for people who have the experience,
percentage who keep it secret
jpg jpg
percentage of people who have the the experience

Copyright © 2017 Michael Slepian. All rights reserved.

abortion Had an abortion
ambition Kept a secret ambition, secret plan, or secret goal for yourself.
belief/ideology Kept a belief secret (for example, political views, religious views, views about social groups, prejudice).
counternormative An unusual behavior (unrelated to *any* of the other categories).
drug use Used illegal drugs, OR abused / addicted to a legal drug (e.g., alcohol, painkillers).
emotional infidelity Committed *emotional* infidelity (NOT involving actual sexual infidelity), for example, having an inappropriate emotional connection with someone, or engaging in something other than sex, such as flirting, kissing, etc.
employment Kept secret a job or employment that you have (or school activity).
extra-relational thoughts Thought about having relations with another person (while already in a relationship).
family detail Have you ever kept a detail about your family secret.
finances Keep secret details about finances (or amount of money you have).
habit/addiction Had a habit or addiction (but NOT involving drugs).
hidden relationship Have you ever hid a current relationship, or keep a past relationship secret.
hobby Have you ever hid a hobby or possession.
illegal Engaged in something illegal (other than drugs or stealing).
lack sex Kept secret a lack of having sex (i.e., that you are not, or were not, having sex at some point).
lie Have lied to someone.
marriage proposal Planning to propose marriage.
mental health Had mental health issues, or dissatisfied with something about yourself other than physical appearance (for example, fears, anxieties, depression, mental disorders, eating disorders).
other woman/man At some point was in a relationship with someone who themselves actually had a partner (that is, the person was cheating on their partner -- with you).
other-harm Hurt another person (for example, emotionally or physically hurt someone), and kept this secret from someone else.
personal story A specific story you keep a secret (unrelated to *any* of the other categories).
physical discontent Dissatisfied with something physical about yourself
poor work performance Performing poorly at work (or school).
preference Kept secret a preference for something (for example, not liking something that people think you like, or liking something people do not know you like).
pregnant While pregnant didn't tell some people.
romantic desire Had romantic desires about someone (while being single) for example, a crush, in love with someone, wanting relations with a specific person... while being single.
romantic discontent Unhappy in a romantic relationship.
self-harm Physically harmed yourself.
sexual infidelity Committed *sexual* infidelity (engaged in sexual relations with someone who was not your partner).
sexual orientation Concealed your sexual orientation / gender identity.
sexual behavior Sexual behavior that you keep secret (other than sexual orientation, for example, porn, masturbation, fantasies, unusual sexual behavior, etc).
social discontent Dislike a friend, or unhappy with current social life.
surprise Planning a surprise for someone (other than a marriage proposal).
theft Stolen something from someone or some place.
trauma Had a traumatic experience (other than the above).
violate trust Violated someone's trust (but NOT by a lie) for example, by snooping, revealing information about someone, breaking or losing something that belongs to someone without telling them, etc).
work cheating Cheated or did something improper at work (or school), or having lied to get a job (or into a school).
work discontent Dissatisfied with your situation at work (or school).