Swearing and stress

20090723_swearing_and_profanity_mind_your_languageI have always wondered why people swear. The September issue of  The Psychologist has provided some insights.

It’s obviously about emotion but here’s some evidence to support this. Richard Stevens (the author of the article in The Psychologist) put participants in a painful situation – placing their hand in a bucket of ice cold water. He asked some of the participants to repeat a swear word of their choosing while doing this task. These participants withstood the pain longer than participants who just repeated a neutral word. This suggests that swearing does offer an emotional release and may make difficult situations more tolerable. Furthermore Stevens has found that repeatedly using a swear word reduces its effectualness – it loses its emotional impact.

But what about humour – after all, comedians use swearing a lot? I’ll leave you with the title of a serious research study on the topic (of swear words not humour) ‘Christ fucking shit merde!’ Language preferences for swearing among maximally proficient multilinguals. Did you smile?

Tagged as:
No comments yet.

Leave a Reply