A close look at revealing secrets and some consequences that follow

Walid A. Afifi, John P. Caughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


During a 2-month period this investigation followed 342 individuals who were keeping a secret, focusing on predictors and outcomes of revelation. Rumination, identity-related concerns, and self-esteem were the variables of interest. Rumination at the beginning of the study was associated negatively with self-esteem and was positively correlated with identity-related concerns. Despite their positive association with one another, rumination and the identity factors clashed in their impact on the decision to reveal the secret. Finally, the revelation of secrets seems to decrease rumination and increase self-esteem, but only to the extent that the target's reaction was positive and the revelation decreased the self-relevance of the secret for the discloser, respectively. A complex picture emerges of the process of secret concealment and revelation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-488
Number of pages22
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Disclosure
  • Identity
  • Rumination
  • Secrets
  • Self-esteem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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