Secrets, Psychological Health, and the Fear of Discovery

Published on 2020-08-06T12:09:20Z (GMT) by
<div><p>Keeping secrets from one’s partner has been associated with lower well-being and relationship satisfaction. Previous research has suggested that individual differences in self-concealment account for these effects. However, we propose that the fear of discovery (FoD)—defined as the fear that one’s secret may be revealed by means other than deliberate disclosure—predicts the extent to which secrets affect well-being beyond the effects attributable to individual differences. Both a cross-sectional and a longitudinal survey (combined <i>N</i> = 471; 54.4% female; <i>M<sub>age</sub></i> = 39.5) of adults in romantic relationships confirmed that FoD predicted greater preoccupation with the secret, more negative affect, and less relationship satisfaction and commitment beyond that of self-concealment. Multilevel modeling in Study 2 indicated that changes in FoD predicted changes in preoccupation over time. The data are consistent with the notion that FoD promotes greater preoccupation, greater negative affect, and lower levels of relationship well-being.</p></div>

Cite this collection

Davis, Christopher G.; Brazeau, Hannah; Xie, Elisabeth Bailin; McKee, Kathleen (2020): Secrets, Psychological Health, and the Fear of Discovery. SAGE Journals. Collection.