Swearing can make you physically stronger, new research finds.
During short, intense exercise, people could produce more power if they swore, the study found.
And this is not the only advantage of swearing that psychologists have found.
Here are a few more:
- Swearing reduces the pain people feel.
- Light swearing can help to persuade others of your sincerity (but use with caution, damn it!).
- Swearing is actually a sign that people have a good vocabulary.
- Social swearing is a way of making friends when it is intended to show a relaxed atmosphere and happiness.
- Swearing wakes us up, giving a jolt to the brain’s ‘fight-or-flight’ mechanism.
- Similarly, swearing can be a good way of coping, giving you a mental boost when things are going badly.
- Swearing is a sign of honesty. Yes, people who swear more are judged to be filtering their thoughts less, and so are seen as more honest.
The power of swearing
In the latest study, researchers tested people’s handgrip strength, along with the power they produced on an exercise bike.
The results showed that swearing produced more strength and more power.
Dr Richard Stephens, one of the study’s authors, who reported the research at the BPS conference, said:
“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 your 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.
But when we measured heart rate and some other things you would expect to be affected if the sympathetic nervous system was responsible for this increase in strength, we did not find significant changes.
So quite why it is that swearing has these effects on strength and pain tolerance remains to be discovered.
We have yet to understand the power of swearing fully.”
The study was presented by Dr Richard Stephens from Keele University to the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society in Brighton, 2017.