Health Effects of Disclosing Personal Secrets to Accepting Versus Non-Accepting Confidants

Doctoral Dissertation


In Experiment 1, undergraduates (N = 87) wrote either about trivial events or about a secret while imagining (a) an accepting confidant, (b) a non-accepting confidant, or © no confidant. Unlike the no-confidant group, the accepting group reported fewer illnesses at 8-week follow-up than did the non-accepting and trivial groups, especially to the extent that this group found their confidants to be accepting and discreet. Experiment 2 (N = 74) used the same design, except that the confidant manipulation came after the writing. Eight weeks later, the accepting group" having imagined reactions that were more accepting and less judgmental than the non-accepting group" again reported fewer illnesses than did the non-accepting and trivial groups. The author suggests that when people keep personal secrets, they often do so because they fear being ostracized. Revealing to an accepting confidant can reduce distress associated with not belonging and, therefore, can lead to health benefits.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-06222004-094156

Author Robert Rene Rodriguez
Advisor Anita E. Kelly
Contributor Anre Venter, Committee Member
Contributor Laura Carlson, Committee Member
Contributor Anita E. Kelly, Committee Chair
Contributor Thomas V. Merluzzi, Committee Member
Contributor David A. Smith, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Psychology
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Defense Date
  • 2003-07-29

Submission Date 2004-06-22
  • United States of America

  • secrets

  • self-disclosure

  • social acceptance

  • confidants

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Access Rights Open Access
Content License
  • All rights reserved


Please Note: You may encounter a delay before a download begins. Large or infrequently accessed files can take several minutes to retrieve from our archival storage system.