Curse Like a Sailor? Maybe You're Just Honest

Study builds on the premise that swearing is linked to less filtering
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2017 10:11 AM CST
Curse Like a Sailor? Maybe You're Just Honest
Samuel L. Jackson in a scene from "Snakes On A Plane."   (AP Photo/New Line Pictures, file)

When profanity goes up, so does integrity. Wait, what? That's what researchers from Stanford, Cambridge, and beyond report in a study they've titled, "Frankly, we do give a damn: The relationship between profanity and honesty," in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. They ultimately found that swearing is used more as a means to express emotion than as an anti-social tool to harm or disparage others, and thus those who swear more tend to be allowing their true selves to shine through, reports Indy100. To test this, the team first surveyed a group of 276 people about their swearing habits and levels of honesty, and found that people who curse the most tend to be the most honest.

To get past the reliance on self reporting, the researchers then analyzed the status updates of more than 73,000 Facebook users, measuring both profanity and honesty based on previous research showing that liars tend to write in the third person and deploy more negative words, reports Medical Daily. They then compared that same data with integrity levels among US states. "The consistent findings across the studies suggest that the positive relation between profanity and honesty is robust, and that the relationship found at the individual level indeed translates to the society level," the researchers write. (Apparently women now drop the F bomb more than men.)

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