Tuesday 14 November 2023

Keeping a good news secret will improve your energy levels

A recent study has suggested that people would do better to keep positive secrets to themselves as it can help energise them and make them feel more invigorated. It's an interesting concept.

The study is published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The researchers worked out of Columbia University in New York.

The report states that: "Prior research on secrecy has focused on the effects of negative secrets, secrets that involve information that people consider unpleasant, objectionable or embarrassing. Yet many secrets are positive in nature, from marriage proposals to gifts, to surprises to unexpected good news. Although negative secrets have been found to be fatiguing, we proposed that positive secrets can be energising. We define feelings of energy as feeling alive, alert, active and invigorated."

The moment a person discloses a good secret should be delayed so that the person can "spend more time savouring the information, reflecting on its meaning or considering possible joyful reactions to sharing the secret."

The experiments were conducted with 2,500 people. In all there were five experiments and they found that more than 75% of participants instinctively wanted to tell people good news immediately. Yes, I can understand that. It is common sense to tell others good news and counterintuitive to talk to others about it but it may be an opportunity missed.

They were shown 40 types of common good news such as winning on a bet, becoming pregnant, getting engaged or clearing a debt.

They were asked which type of good news they had experienced and which they had shared with others or those that kept secret for a while. And there were asked how they felt under these different circumstances.

They were also asked to imagine they had a piece of good news and to envisage two scenarios. In one they chose not to tell their partner until the end of the day. And in the other they try to call their partner but couldn't make contact and therefore had to wait until later.

In the first scenario they made a deliberate choice to keep the secret for a number of hours and this led to positive feelings while the second scenario did not.

Of course, secrets are very nuanced and very variable. Some so-called positive secrets don't make people happy when kept close to their chest. It might be a secret to avoid embarrassment because good news can make others feel worse about their situation. 

Or the good news might lead others to judge you negatively. A typical example would be if you bought a nice but expensive present for yourself, which might elicit negative reactions in others for reasons, perhaps, of envy.

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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