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Secrets weigh people down

People who keep secrets end up finding everyday tasks far more strenuous than those who do not harbour undisclosed truths, according to a new study. The research conducted at Tufts University revealed that the emotional burden of a secret actually takes a physical toll on its carrier.

health and fitness Updated: May 03, 2012 17:30 IST

People who keep secrets end up finding everyday tasks far more strenuous than those who do not harbour undisclosed truths, according to a new study.

The research conducted at Tufts University revealed that the emotional burden of a secret actually takes a physical toll on its carrier, the Daily Mai reported.

The researchers were curious 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,” it added.

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 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,” the study said.

“Thus, as with physical burdens, secrets weigh people down,” it added.