This is what swearing says about you

Mimi Launder
Thursday 23 November 2017 13:30
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Picture:(iStock / Filip Warulik)

The next time someone tells you to 'p*ss off', soothe yourself knowing they are living their most honest life.

Those who swear more are more likely to be honest people, according to University of Cambridge research.

After studying 276 people in a lab and 73,789 Facebook users, the researchers measured the 'average profanity scores' against the 'integrity index'.

In other words, they measured whether you swear a lot against whether you lie a lot.

Participants agreed or disagreed with statements such as 'I never lie' and listed their favourite swear words to gauge how much they enjoy effing and blinding.

In the paper, the researchers concluded:

We found a consistent positive relationship between profanity and honesty; profanity was associated with less lying and deception at the individual level and with higher integrity at the society level.

As usual when it comes to scientific findings, disclaimers apply: swearing was found to correlate with honesty and is not necessarily caused by it.

Also, self-reporting can be inaccurate - and this paper relied on it a lot, as participants were asked to rate their own honesty - which can be tricky.

Dr David Stillwell, one of the study's lead authors, told the Telegraph that the correlation could be to do with social convention:

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.

We did not look at extreme dishonesty such as fraud, so from that experiment it’s an open question as to whether there would be a link.

Swearing also makes you stronger.

Psychologists from Keele University found that getting angry and cursing can improve your muscle strength and stamina.

Volunteers swore before intense exercise sessions - and cursing lead to signifiant improvements in performance.

The study's lead author, Dr Richard Stephens, said in a statement:

We know from our earlier research that swearing makes people more able to tolerate pain.

A possible reason for this is that it stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system – that’s the system that makes you heart pound when you are in danger.

If that is the reason, we would expect swearing to make people stronger too – and that is just what we found in these experiments.

HT Mental Floss Telegraph

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