Numerous studies have been conducted on how we talk, what we say, and the manner in which we say it. Profanity in particular has been of interest to researchers — and apparently science has determined what your swearing habit says about you. If you've ever wondered why we swear, or how it impacts the way people perceive us, good news: It could be working in your favor.
A recent study published in Sage Journals found that when people read a blog post written by a fictitious politician, the appearance of swear words improved the readers' impression of the politician. (The swearing didn't, however, impact the likelihood that they would vote for that politician.) An earlier study published in Social Influence also found that when a politician used "damnit" at the start or end of a speech, participants were more moved by the speech, but the swear words had no effect on the credibility of the politician.
It would thus appear that some strategically placed swear words could potentially help improve your persuasiveness when addressing other people. And I was always taught that it was unladylike.
Why is it that something largely considered taboo, inappropriate, and unintelligent-sounding can actually make you look better? Once again, science comes to the rescue: Research shows that swearing is, ironically, a sign of intelligence. One study, published in Science Direct , concluded that "a voluminous taboo lexicon may better be considered an indicator of healthy verbal abilities" — which is a fancy schmancy way of saying that if you know more words, profanity or not, you know more words. And a bigger vocab is a sign of a brighter person.
Don't forget the other bonuses to dropping a curse word every now and then: It's good for you! Biological Psychiatry published a study finding that expressing anger can actually help your brain to release less cortisol — the stress hormone connected to obesity, heart disease, and bone loss. It can even help reduce physical pain. Yet another theory discussed at the British Psychological Society conference found that in moderation, swearing is a harmless way to express anger that can help you feel stronger. A win-win.
A lot of these studies seem to agree that you should ideally opt for thoughtfully used swear words, as opposed to one giant string of expletives — meaning you don't want to get too carried away with it. Still, it's quite different from what we were always taught. So loosen up and let it rip, damnit.