Keeping a secret is probably one of the hardest things to do, and a recent study shows the reason why, which may surprise you.
Can you keep a secret? Chances are, you cannot. I know, I know, you are one of the most trustworthy people around, keeping every confidence down to what your best friend did last summer, right? Wrong.
Studies show that no one can really keep a secret, and the reason may surprise you.
The science of the secret
The word ‘secret’ comes from the Latin word, ‘Secernere’. Broken down, the word means thus: ‘Se’ means apart, and ‘Cernere’ means sift. In short, the word secret means to sift some information from other information, keeping this prized knowledge from a specific person. And that, my friend, can be hard to do.
So why is sifting information so hard to do? It’s simple, really. Our brains are supposed to be able to do many things, including storing information, calculating problems and memory. Those are just a few things the brain has perfected. The brain is also adept at multitasking, but with multitasking, the brain processes are diluted. After all, multitasking takes away bandwidth from metacognition.
As psychologist Art Markman notes,
“Our brains have a limited capacity to process information, so if you are engaged in a complex discussion, it might be difficult to keep track of what you are allowed to say.”
If you think about it logically, you will understand the point I am trying to make. The more you do, or think, in this instance, the less concentration you can give to each task. So, if you are trying to keep a secret and multitask on all your other thinking priorities, something will have to suffer from lack of attention. An example comes from studies concerning texting and driving, and we all know how safe that can be. Hmmm, now that part’s been explained. But there’s still another reason why keeping secrets is hard.
That thrill and excitement when you know something that they don’t, yeah, that’s addictive. That’s another reason why keeping secrets is hard. From the moment your friend expresses amazement by your secret reveal, you are feeling the buzz of attention. It’s just so ego-boosting when you are the bearer of news, be it good or bad, unfortunately. This makes it twice as hard to keep that secret your friend trusted you with, and even regret is not as powerful as being the reporter, announcer or know it all.
Yes, I know I’m being a little dramatic, but it’s true. Keeping a secret is probably one of the hardest things to do, which means keeping a secret has to be a testament to a loyal character. After all, how long do you want the burden of controversial information?
When a friend tells you to keep her secret, can you do it? Can you really take one piece of information to your grave? Think about it.