Swear words make us stronger and more persuasive

SCIENCE – You can’t help but say bad words despite your good will? Even if it’s not very pretty, rest assured, name-calling, insults and swearing give you power, it’s proven! According to a recent British study published this summer in the journal Lingua, swearing indeed generates beneficial results that are unsuspected, to say the least, whether physiological, cognitive, emotional or even painkiller.

Swearing differs from conventional language use because it possesses a power and force that is not shared by common language. For British researchers, the conclusion is thus clear: swear words have their virtues.

The power of swearing

Stumping your little toe on the coffee table and yelling bad words to calm the pain must have happened to you before. But why do we say profanity at such times? In fact, swear words have a hyperalgesic power, that is to say, they provide greater tolerance to pain, while reducing the perception of it.

Swear words are also the best allies of lies! When used in oral interaction, swearing provides a unique and powerful means of emotional expression, which helps establish greater persuasion and/or credibility in conveying messages.

This is why when they are employed, they provoke greater attention from the listeners. Since swearing is a sign of strong emotion, swearing produces a ” memory recall », that is to say a means of restoring information already learned in the past. Emotional release, emotional excitement, swear words sometimes translate your emotions more easily than with conventional language.

And even if it can’t be seen, this overflow of emotion when we say bad words is felt on our body. The heart rate accelerates for example, which can make it an asset for your physical abilities. The study further reports that swearing allows for better physical display by increasing strength. So you know what you have to do before getting on your treadmill…

Swearing: an unresolved science

Even though the ” profits mentioned above have been the subject of advanced studies, the explanation of this phenomenon leaves several other questions unanswered. The researchers claim that the power of swear words is not specific to the words themselves but rather to the simple fact of pronouncing them: in particular in the intention taken to quote them.

Is there also a liberating effect in saying words ” prohibited », the kind of rudeness that we have no right to pronounce as a child? Not so sure. The causal link with childhood is not yet clearly defined. The study points out a lack of empirical evidence that would clearly link the effects of swearing in adulthood to individual experiences of punishment for swearing in childhood”.

To go even further, researchers are questioning the use of swear words and more specifically the conditioning of our language. ” Many routine swear words spoken by adults are conversational in nature and are geared towards managing interpersonal relationships and speech processes. There is currently a gap in our knowledge on how and when children acquire conversational forms of swearing”.

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