Scientists assessed levels of “authentic self expression” in 533 volunteers to see how they interacted socially, for a study that was presented at the annual meeting of the British Psychological Society in London.

The subjects were found more likely to “be themselves” with partners, then with friends, followed by parents, but they were much less likely to express their true selves to work colleagues.

People who opened up to partners had greater wellbeing and were more satisfied with their lives, but the same was not seen from doing the same at work.

Dr Oliver Robinson, from the University of Greenwich in London, said: You hear self-help gurus say that the secret of happiness is ‘being yourself’ or ‘expressing your true feelings’, but that doesn’t seem to apply in the workplace.

“So in some circumstances, it may be that a polite smile or tactfully keeping quiet may be more conducive to your well-being than saying what you actually think and feel to work colleagues.