Slepian, Masicampo, Toosi, and Ambady (2012, Experiment 1) reported that participants who recalled a big secret estimated a hill as steeper than participants who recalled a small secret. This finding was interpreted as evidence that secrets are experienced as physical burdens. In 2 experiments, we tried to replicate this finding, but, despite larger power, did not find a difference in slant estimates between participants who recalled a big secret and those who recalled a small secret. This finding was further corroborated by a meta-analysis that included 8 published data sets of exact replications, which indicates that thinking of a big secret does not affect hill slant estimation. In a third experiment, we also failed to replicate the effect of recalling a secret on throwing a beanbag at a target (Slepian et al., 2012, Experiment 2). Together, our findings question the robustness of the original empirical findings.

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Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
Department of Psychology

Pecher, D., van Mierlo, H., Cañal-Bruland, R., & Zeelenberg, R. (2015). The burden of secrecy? No effect on hill slant estimation and beanbag throwing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144(4), e65–e72. doi:10.1037/xge0000090