Keeping a secret is similar to carrying physical weight which can sap you of your energy.

"Being preoccupied by a secret at work can be demotivating," said Michael Slepian, assistant professor of negotiations at Columbia Business School, New York City and co-author of the study.

"The burden of secrecy can make things around you appear more challenging and if you're less motivated to tackle these challenges, your performance can suffer," Slepian noted

For the study, scientists carried out a series of experiments to assess the effect secrets had on a subject's ability to judge the steepness of a hill.

Contrary to the assumption that women can't wait to disclose the secret, it is men who are first to spill the beans. Thanks to social media, men no longer wait to see their mates in the pub and typically share a secret within three hours.

While almost half of men admit to passing on the information within minutes of first being told about it, women will keep it to themselves for at least three and a half hours before passing it on.

"This is the same kind of outcome we see when people are carrying physical burdens, seeing the world as more challenging, forbidding and extreme," Slepian pointed out.

 

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