The Case for (Occasional) Curse Words

Swearing can put people off — but in select situations it also can have potential benefits, according to new research.

In a recent video, The Meetology Lab’s Jonathan Bradshaw explained three of the benefits of using “colorful” language.

Bradshaw tempered the following list of benefits with the observation that this is true of occasional swearing in selected company — it’s not appropriate to swear around children, of course, and swearing can cause some people to view you more negatively. 

1. PSYCHOLOGICAL RESILIENCE“We can be stronger, mentally more tough, when we swear. I’ve mentioned before about the impact of internal dialogue on our mental performance, and so swearing — either out loud or in our head — seems to have an effect and increase our abilities in this area.”

2. PAIN TOLERANCE“In an experiment, [researchers] asked people to put their hands in an ice-cold bucket of water. Those that were swearing or encouraged to swear when they did so could leave their hands in for longer as opposed to those who just read out a list of household objects.”

3. SOCIAL BONDING“Swearing does influence other people. It can help us bond with people. If you’re in a group of people who are swearing, the research shows that we’re accepted more, there’s more of a connectivity when we swear occasionally, too. That’s quite simple — it comes down to similarities. You’re adapting to behave in the same way as the group.”

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