With the risk of simplifying the human variety, we can say that there are two types of people in the world: those who bite their tongue for not saying bad words and those who say them with no problems. Those that say bad words may seem crude and rude as including in our speech some words classified as “obscene” is not well seen. However, this habit can make a few points in your favor.
A study conducted by the universities of Stanford, Cambridge, Maastricht and Hong Kong suggests that people who say one bad word after the other might actually be more honest.
Cursing involves applying less mental filters to speech
The first part of the study involved 276 people who said what were the main swear words that they used daily and how often. Later, the researchers have tested their level of honesty through a series of tests.
In the second part of the study, the researchers analyzed approximately 73,789 Facebook profiles, looking for linguistic indicators of deception, such as the use of the third person and the presence of negative words.
Combining the results it was seen that there is a strong correlation between the curses and honesty; i.e. people who curse and say bad words often tend to be more sincere.
The researchers noted that, although in most cultures cursing and saying bad words is not well seen, these are direct and honest forms of expression, without filters. In fact, they are not an expression of malice or anger, but rather of authenticity, since people can use these words in social contexts as if they were talking to themselves. In practice, it would be an externalization of the inner dialogue that takes place in their minds.
This kind of language also implies that the person does not filter very much his social discourse, which indicates that uses less masks and is not afraid to show himself as it is. It can also be considered an indicator that the person is not very interested in social conventions.
In addition, an experiment conducted at the University of Keele showed that swearing helps us to face pain. When people could curse freely felt less pain, even if the heart rate increased. This means that the threshold of pain perception increases. And if that were not enough, it was also discovered that swearing increases our tolerance to frustration.
Why the “bad words” have this effect?
The key lies in the fact that “bad words” are a social taboo, are prohibited in certain situations. So when we’re allowed to say them, we are breaking an implicit rule, and this makes us feel good.
In addition, in stressful situations swearing involves the breaking of the self-control dam, so the curse turns into a valve that allows us to free ourselves from a little tension. For this reason the “bad words” have a cathartic power.
Feldman. G. et. Al. (2016) Frankly, we do give a damn: The relationship between profanity and honesty. Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Stephens, R. (2009) Swearing as a response to pain. NeuroReport, 120: 1056-1060.
Newman, M. L. et. Al. (2003) Lying Words: Predicting Deception From Linguistic Styles. PSPB; 29(5): 665-675.