Do you swear like a sailor? Well, what everyone told you was a nasty habit might actually make you a good friend.
It may also mean that you are smarter and have better vocabularies than those who are softer spoken.
Some psychologists even argue that profanity can be therapeutic. Basically, everything we think about cursing might be wrong.
“Curse words have been only of brief passing interest to psychologist and linguists. The absence of research on emotional speech has produce theories of language that are polite but inaccurate. Curse words are words we are not supposed to say; hence, curse words themselves are powerful,” writes psychologist Timothy Jay from Massachusettes College of Liberal Arts in his study titled “Why We Curse: A Neuro-Psycho-Social Theory of Speech.”
Jay and fellow psychologist Kristi Janschewitz from Marist College worked on a study titled: “The Pragmatics of Swearing” which found that those who use curse words are likely to be better friends.
This is because they are likely to be more honest and genuine because they were comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings.
A good friend will tell you the truth. Their study even found that criminals who swore during interrogations were more like to be innocent. Their guilty counterparts attempted to remain calm and civil to mask their guilt.
Using swear word might also suggest one’s high level of intelligence.
Those who swear a lot tend to be expressive and more fluent in their language skills, curse words aside.
“People who use taboo words understand their general expressive content as well as nuanced distinctions that must be drawn to use slurs appropriately,” Jay and Janschewitz’s student states. “The ability to make nuanced distinction indicates the presence of more rather than less linguistic knowledge.”
One study found that cursing can even help ward off pain.
According to Psychology Today, study participants who repeated curse words were able to keep their hand submerged in ice water for 50 percent longer than those who repeated a neutral word. Researchers concluded that cursing reduced the sensitivity to pain.
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The taboo surrounding swear words might be a taboo we should put behind us in modern times.
“The NPS [neuro-psycho-social] Theory overcomes these earlier shortcomings by viewing language in a more comprehensive fashion that includes offensive speech (i.e., cursing) as an essential element in speech comprehension and production processes. The result is a more realistic view of human language,” Jay’s study concludes.
So, the next time someone knocks you for dropping an f-bomb just tell them that you’re expressing your intelligence, resistance to pain, and ability to be a good friend.
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