The forbidden words honest people use

Greg Evans
Tuesday 22 August 2017 08:45
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Picture:(iStock)

New research has found that if you swear on a regular basis you are probably quite an honest person.

Breaking out the curse words may be frowned upon by many areas of society, but it could be a tell-tale sign that you are far more willing to express more emotions than people who don't frequently curse.

A study, published earlier this year, found that there was a direct relationship between profanity and honesty.

Conducted by Gilad Feldman, Huiwen Lian, Michal Kosinski and David Stillwell; the experts initially consulted 276 people and asked them to list their most used words, including swear words.

After sharing which swear words they used, the subjects were given a survey which asked them to agree or disagree with certain statements.

These statements ranged from "I never lie" to "all my habits are good". These utterances were used to assess their levels of honesty and dishonesty.

The researchers discovered that people who were more likely to swear proved to be the more honest individuals, and weren't afraid of filtering their opinions or emotions.

In the second part of the study, the experts collected data from 75,000 different people on Facebook, where similar results were discovered.

Users who posted short and to-the-point messages were the least likely to swear, as liars (apparently) find it more difficult to construct complicated sentences.

These results might cause a conflict of issues. We'd all like to be as honest as possible, but swearing isn't exactly the most socially acceptable use of language.

Dr Stillwell attempts to address this issue:

There are two ways of looking at it.

You might think if someone is swearing a lot, this is a negative social behaviour seen as a bad thing to do, so if someone swears they are probably a bad person as well.

On the other hand, they are not filtering their language so they are probably also not putting their stories about what is going on through similar filters which might turn them into untruths.

That is what we seemed to land on in this study, that people who use the language that comes to mind first are less likely to be playing games with the truth.

This doesn't necessarily mean that you should be dropping F-bombs or calling out everyone in public, but maybe turning the air blue every now and again isn't such a bad thing.

Dr Stillwell adds:

If you’re trying to follow the social norms rather than saying what you think, you are saying what people want to hear.

In that respect you are not being very honest.

To give an example of someone not filtering their words, the study used President Donald Trump as an example of someone who isn't afraid of expressing his opinions through profanity.

Stillwell says:

Profanity has even been used by presidential candidates in American elections as recently illustrated by Donald Trump, who has been both hailed for authenticity and criticised for moral bankruptcy.

President Trump might not be the best person to aspire towards, but if you feel like swearing like a sailor on shore leave then at least we know you are honest.

HT Spring Telegraph Sage Journals

More: Every British swear word has been officially ranked in order of offensiveness

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