In a surprise to no one with a potty mouth, science shows that swearing has a plus side.
CNN reported that there's good news for those of us that tend towards more profane vocabulary: swearing has been shown to have several advantages and studies even show that (contrary to popular belief) using profanity doesn't correlate to low intelligence or poor vocabulary.
According to Timothy Jay, professor emeritus of psychology at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, there are actually several benefits to swearing. He should know, too—he has spent the past 40 years studying it. He goes on to explain that science is somewhat recently catching up to what the potty-mouthed among us all secretly knew.
"The benefits of swearing have just emerged in the last two decades, as a result of a lot of research on brain and emotion, along with much better technology to study brain anatomy," said Jay.
Let's start with the most common assumption, now “officially” debunked! People who swear a lot do not necessarily do it because of a limited vocabulary. In fact, those people who have the biggest vocabulary also tend to have more swear words at their disposal. That's right, knowing more words just means you also know how to swear better.
Studies have also demonstrated links between swearing and creativity, swearing and pain tolerance, and swearing and decreased aggression. The connection between swearing and creativity seems to hinge on the right (creative and emotional) side of the brain being the nexus for swearing while another language tends to be left-brained.
Richard Stephens explained to the BBC back in 2016, “Aphasics usually have damage to the left hemisphere and often have difficulty with speech. But there are plenty of recorded cases in which aphasics can use stereotypical language more fluently—meaning they can sing songs or swear fluently.”
This connection between cursing and creativity makes another sort of sense, though—if you've ever beautifully strung together several swears modifying a well-timed F-Bomb, you already knew that you are creative.
Speaking of things you already know,k if you're fluent in spicy language, swearing correlates to increased pain tolerance. Stubbed your toe? Cuss. Burned your hand? Cuss. Hit the curb? Cuss (yes, stress counts as a sort of pain in this respect). Studies have shown that using expletives helps increase your ability to withstand pain, to push harder physically, to endure greater stress. Swearing evidently produces an adrenaline response and an analgesic reaction. So that time you had to leave your customer-facing position to go into the backroom and cuss about something, it was not just your imagination that made you feel better.
And, as if all that wasn't enough, people who express themselves by swearing are less likely to express themselves through violence. So there you have it, we may “curse like a sailor,” but that's just because we are honest, have larger, more creative vocabularies, and don't want to hit the person who is stressing us out.
What are your thoughts on cursing? Let us know in the comments (but let's keep the language clean).