The Psychology of Secrets || Michael Slepian

October 23, 2023

Today we welcome Michael Slepian to the podcast. Michael is the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Associate Professor of Leadership and Ethics at Columbia University. A recipient of the Rising Star Award from the Association for Psychological Science, he is the leading expert on the psychology of secrets. He’s authored more than fifty articles on secrecy, truth, and deception. Michael’s research has been covered by The New York Times, The Atlantic, NPR, BBC, The Wall Street Journal and more. He is the author of The Secret Life of Secrets. 

In this episode, I talk to Michael Slepian about the psychology of secrets. Everyone has secrets that they keep from others—how does this affect our relationships and well-being? According to Michael, maintaining privacy is not the most burdensome aspect. Carrying a secret all by ourselves is what weighs us down. Michael and I explore the different categories of secrets and we talk about when to reveal the deepest parts of ourselves and who to reveal them to. We also touch on the topics of personality, morality, trauma, developmental psychology and communication. 

Website: michaelslepian.com

Twitter: @michaelslepian


  • Michael’s family secret
  • Defining secrecy
  • Correlation of personality with secret keeping
  • Revealing secrets
  • Categories of secrets
  • Healthy communication with children
  • Morality of secret keeping
  • Jamie Kunz and Dale Coventry’s secret
  • Journaling and emotional support
  • Three dimensions of secrets
  • How to deflect direct questions
  • Sharing secrets anonymously
  • Secret joys

Sponsor Information

Unlikely Collaborators

Today’s episode is sponsored by Unlikely Collaborators. Their mission is to untangle the stories that hold us back—as individuals, communities, nations, and humanity at large. Using the Perception Box lens, they do this through storytelling, experiences, impact, investments and scientific research. Unlikely Collaborators: The Only Way Forward is Inward.

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