It turns out that swearing may fulfill a fundamental human need. Well, who the hell knew? Excerpt:
Studies have shown that swearing can increase the effectiveness and persuasiveness of a message, especially when it is seen as a positive surprise. It might even work with politicians.
A study published in 2014 found that when reading a blog post by a fictitious politician, the post with swear words increased the perceived informality of the language and improved peoples’ impressions of the source – though when asked outright, it didn’t change the likelihood of voting for the politician. The researchers also hypothesise that the findings are specific to the context of an internet blog post, which also makes sense, given the fact we tend to swear more often online. (In a recent exploratory study for example, Twitter users were found to swear about 1.15% of the time, or 64% higher than when we speak.)
In a series of studies, Stephens and his colleagues illustrated how swearing can increase tolerance to pain. Students who repeated a curse word were able to keep their hand in a bucket of ice water longer than those who uttered a neutral word.
As all of you True Believers no doubt know by now, I’m no stranger to profanity and will on occasion drop an F-bomb in these virtual pages. I spent a good part of my youth wearing Army green, and that (at least in the 80s and 90s) was a rough culture where profanity was a normal part of the discourse. I’m not a fan of the overuse of profanity or gratuitous swearing, and I carefully watch my language around children and people who I know are displeased by bad language – my parents, for example, who are WW2 generation folks, raised in a time when bad language wasn’t as prevalent as today.
But I agree with the article that profanity can be very effective verbal punctuation and emphasis. Sometimes it is just simply the best way to get your fucking point across. There’s a reason, after all, that particular epithet is referred to as an F-bomb, after all – it does get folks’ attention.
And it’s friendlier than hitting them over the head with a 2×4.