The physical burden of keeping a secret: How everyday chores seem harder if you're keeping something under wraps
19:09 GMT, 26 March 2012
Women are notoriously bad at keeping secrets and surprisingly often betray a friend's trust within a matter of mere minutes of being confided in.
But a new study that sheds light on how it feels to know someone's most intimate secrets might justify the need to divulge the information so quickly.
According to research conducted at Tufts University, the emotional burden of a secret actually takes a physical toll on its carrier and those who harbour such undisclosed truths perceive everyday tasks as far more strenuous.
Gossip: According to a new study, the emotional weight of carrying a secret can manifest itself in such a way that it becomes a physical burden
The tests were carried out, according to the report, to see if there existed a relationship between metaphor and reality.
'Language used to describe secrets, such as “being weighed down” or “being burdened,” suggests that carrying a secret is conceptualized metaphorically as a physical burden,' it read.
'If so, sensorimotor states associated with physical burdens could be activated or simulated when carrying a secret.
'We examined whether secrets would thus be experienced as physical burdens, influencing how people perceive and act in the world.'
Everyday Health broke down the study, explaining that some participants were asked to remember a life-altering secret and others a small, slightly less significant, personal secret.
Both groups were then invited to estimate how steep a hill was or how far a distance seemed.
The findings revealed that those with the meaningful secret saw the hill and distance as higher and further respectively, thus suggesting that the weight of the secret manifested itself physically.
Likewise, a group of candidates who were keeping the uncomfortable knowledge of their infidelity under wraps, were more likely to perceive tasks like carrying groceries upstairs or walking the dog as requiring more of an effort.
The study concluded: 'The more burdensome the secret and the more thought devoted to it, the more perception and action were influenced in a manner similar to carrying physical weight.
'Thus, as with physical burdens, secrets weigh people down.'
The report comes hot off the heals of skincare brand Simple's survey in which some women confessed to having to share a secret within only 32 minutes of hearing it.