DOI: 10.1177/13684302231187870 ISSN:

Secret disclosure and social relationships in groups

Giovanni A. Travaglino, John M. Levine, Dominik-Borna Ćepulić, Zhuo Li
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Communication
  • Cultural Studies
  • Social Psychology

Personal secrets are a ubiquitous fact of group life, but the conditions under which they are revealed have not been explored. In five studies, we assessed secret disclosure in groups governed by four models of human sociality (Communal Sharing, Equality Matching, Authority Ranking, Market Pricing; Fiske). In Studies 1a and 1b, participants indicated their willingness to disclose secrets in hypothetical groups governed by the models. In Studies 2a and 2b, participants rated how much a group in which they disclosed secrets or nonsecrets is governed by the models. In Study 3, participants indicated their disclosure of various types of secrets in Communal Sharing and Equality Matching groups to which they belonged. Across studies, disclosure was most strongly associated with Communal Sharing, followed by Equality Matching. Study 3 further showed that identity fusion predicted disclosure in these two kinds of groups. Implications for understanding disclosure of personal secrets in group contexts were discussed.

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