Skip to main content

All Access Pass: All Guilford journals, $49.95 for 3 months | Click on any article to purchase

Self-Concealment: Integrative Review and Working Model

Published Online:

An extensive empirical literature has focused on the self-concealment (SC) construct. In this article, we review 137 studies that used the Self-Concealment Scale (SCS) with varied populations (e.g., adolescent; intercultural; international; lesbian, gay, and bisexual; and intimate partner). We propose a working model for the psychology of SC and the mechanisms of action for its effects on well-being. A dual-motive conflict between urges to conceal and reveal is seen to play a central role in these health effects. Meta-analytic techniques identify significant associations for SC with 18 constructs falling into six general categories: antecedents, disclosure and concealment, emotion regulation, social well-being, psychological and physical health, and psychotherapy. We interpret these findings with reference to current research and theory on secret keeping and health as well as emotion- and self-regulatory processes. This first integrative review supports the construct validity of the SCS and demonstrates the value of the SC construct for the study of psychological phenomena in which secret keeping is a recognized issue.