Much of the social psychological literature considers how people engage with their social worlds. Shared reality theory proposes that people do so for one of two reasons: to connect with others, and to obtain others' perspectives and insights to understand the world around them. Although the literature on shared reality has focused on the ways in which people develop and maintain shared realities with those around them as well as the consequences of achieving such shared realities, we propose that a critical future avenue for this work is to explore what happens when people choose to not share realities. People do not always seek to share their experiences with close others, but sometimes keep secrets. We propose that while shared reality theory is founded upon why and how people connect with others, it can also make predictions for the mechanisms of secrecy and how it relates to well-being. Secrecy could thwart both relational motives and epistemic motives with harm to well-being by making people feel less connected to others, and by preventing people from obtaining others’ insights and perspectives with respect to the secret. New theoretical insights would be gained from integrating research on shared reality with research on secrecy, and future work should investigate the intersection of the two.
Z. Liu and Michael Slepian
Journal Article
Publication Date
Current Opinion in Psychology

Full Citation

Liu, Z. and Michael Slepian
. “Secrecy: Unshared Realities.”
Current Opinion in Psychology
, (October 01, 2018):