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Why Your Swearing Habit Might Mean that You’re Smart


Most adults cuss from time to time, although it’s not generally considered the most “polite” thing to do. (Especially when it’s directed at other people.) But research has found some positive associations to go along with it that will make you feel better if you’re in the habit of swearing.

A study published in the Language Sciences found that people who swear regularly could have a bigger vocabulary overall and also just be smarter than their counterparts.

This research was done at the Marist College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. The researchers asked their participants to list out as many words as they could think of within a given period of time that correlated with certain categories. Examples of the categories were animals, words that started with a certain letter, and swear words.

The results held up whether the people were writing or saying the words out loud, and overall the people who could list more swear words could list more of every kind of word. In the past people have tried to say that people who swear a lot have less developed vocabularies and that that’s why they revert to swearing, but this study has effectively put that rumor to rest.

They even go so far as to suggest that people with a lot of swear words in their arsenal are actually smarter because smarter people tend to know more words overall. (But for this to be true people have to both the know the words and also be able to use them correctly.)

Swearing can also be pretty useful in a variety of ways. For one thing it can help cut down on pain. When people undergo a physically challenging task they keep their heart rate lower and feel less pain when they are allowed to cuss through it.

Swearing can also help people fit in in certain circumstances, since there seems to be some sort of a bonding effect that goes on. These studies have been done in work environments which makes sense, when people are swearing about something that is gone at work it can create a we’re in this together type vibe. (Depending of course on where the swear words are directed and to whom.) This can backfire though if you’re new to a job, so hold off until you get the vibe around the place.

Swearing also has an effect on how effective you present an argument. When people already sort of agree with you they do more so if you add an expletive into it. But if people disagree with your argument adding in a swear word can actually make them feel worse about you. So, do with that what you will.

Still the experts suggest that swear words be used sparingly in any circumstance, since overdoing it is never usually necessary and people like to hear the other words you know as well.