Psychology of Swear Words: Why Do People Curse

Psychology of Swear Words

Psychology of Swear Words

The news site tasked government-relations software company GovPredict with tallying up how many times politicians used obscene language online since 2014. And obscene words (not including “sh— and “f—”) have hit an all-time high of 1,225 instances on Twitter so far in 2019, compared with 833 in all of 2018. (For what it’s worth, they include the words piss and crap and the c-word, d-word and b-word.) Throw in sh— and f—, and that’s 1,898 cursing incidents on Twitter so far this year, compared with 2,578 overall for last year.

Curse words

But last year may have a bigger one for the s-word, as it was used 1,166 times, compared with its 558 uses so far this year. And 579 f-bombs were dropped in 2018, versus 115 this year.

Earlier this year, off-Broadway shows “Hatef**k” and “Actually, We’re F**cked” included the f-word (obscured by asterisks) in their titles, as have network TV shows like “$#*! My Dad Says” on CBS CBS, +0.96% and the Disney-owned DIS, +0.07% ABC’s “Don’t Trust The B—— in Apt. 23.” Even PBS children’s show icon Bill Nye the Science Guy has been using language that’s anything but family-friendly. Market Watch

People that use swear Words are Usually More Honest

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, Maastricht University, Hong Kong University and Stanford found that those who swear more are more likely, to be honest people.

The authors studied 276 people in a lab, the social interactions of 73,789 people on Facebook and measured the average profanity scores against the integrity index for each US state. Their study, which will be published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal, concluded “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”.

“Someone who does not filter their language, so swears, is more likely to be saying what they think to be true so are being more honest and genuine from their perspective. Independent

Another Study confirms that individuals using Swear Words are More Honest

“There are two conflicting perspectives regarding the relationship between profanity and dishonesty. These two forms of norm-violating behaviour share common causes and are often considered to be positively related. On the other hand, however, profanity is often used to express one’s genuine feelings and could, therefore, be negatively related to dishonesty. In three studies, we explored the relationship between profanity and honesty.

We examined profanity and honesty first with profanity behaviour and lying on a scale in the lab (Study 1; N = 276), then with a linguistic analysis of real-life social interactions on Facebook (Study 2; N = 73,789), and finally with profanity and integrity indexes for the aggregate level of U.S. states (Study 3; N = 50 states). 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.”

Cursing appears to make people more likeable

Writing in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science a team of researchers from the Netherlands, the UK, the USA and Hong Kong report that people who use profanity are less likely to be associated with lying and deception.

“The relationship between profanity and dishonesty is a tricky one. Swearing is often inappropriate but it can also be evidence that someone is telling you their honest opinion. Just as they aren’t filtering their language to be more palatable, they’re also not filtering their views. “

In the first questionnaire, 276 participants were asked to list their most commonly used and favourite swear words. They were also asked to rate their reasons for using these words and then took part in a lie test to determine whether they were being truthful or simply responding in the way they thought was socially acceptable. Those who wrote down a higher number of curse words were less likely to be lying. Full Story

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