Oh shit! Turns out swearing is actually good for you
New research suggests that swearing isn’t just stress-relieving, it’s also socially desirable
image Scott Dudelson / Getty
words Lucy O'Brien
Swearing is often the go-to outlet to help us blurt out or cope with our negative emotions; stubbing your toe on a wooden edge, just missing the bus, spilling a splash of coffee on your white shirt – we’ve all dropped those rageful f-bombs. But as it turns out, swearing does far more than just act as a symptom of anger: it can actually have positive effects on our psychological health, social lives and sense of self-empowerment.
A new study has demonstrated the power of swearing as an essential emotional outlet. Conducted by a collective of university researchers from across the UK, the scientists came together to analyse recent research on the effects of swearing, and concluded that it has far more benefits than previously thought. The analysis found that swearing can have a range of physiological, cognitive, emotional and pain-relieving effects. Even when swearing is negatively charged (so, like, swearing out of anger), the researchers found that it serves as an important form of emotional release and stress management.
What is more interesting, though, is the overwhelmingly positive effects found as a result of “social swearing”. Researchers found swearing for the pure sake of it can help out in social situations by making you come across more persuasive, memorable and powerful. The study found that “swear words command more attention,” causing someone to seem stronger in social scenarios. Cursing is seen as a sign of social intimacy among friends, and has been found to increase levels of bonding. Meanwhile, being polite was seen to be reserved only for acquaintances, not true pals. Swearing can even cause symptoms of emotional arousal in yourself and others. Essentially, having a potty mouth helps you make friends AND is considered sexy – who knew?
In terms of psychological benefits, swear words were also found to increase attention and recall, while producing both pain-relief and heightened stamina in those studied. Perhaps it’s because we still feel the child-like excitement of throwing out a naughty word, but it seems swearing is a great way to get our attention span up and keep our minds active.
So next time you go to drop that f-bomb, just think, you might actually be doing yourself some good!