People have opposing beliefs about profanity. Compared before cursing has been more accepted in society today. We can now watch films, TV shows and listen to music peppered with bad words. Though, cursing is still seen as an immoral act, experts say we can also link it to a positive behavior such as honesty and sincerity.
Researchers from the Netherlands, the UK, the USA and Hong Kong published a study in Writing in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. They studied the relationship of cursing and truthfulness.
They gathered answers from 276 participants who were given questionnaires asking them to list their most commonly used words and favorite swear words. Experts asked them when they use such words, then subjected them to lie tests to know if they were being honest or they were just giving answers that are socially acceptable.
Researchers learned that people who listed down more curse words tended to be more truthful in their answers.
In another test, experts collected data from 75,000 Facebook users to measure their use of swear words in their online social interactions. They discovered that users who curse, use language patterns that have been shown in previous research to be related to honesty, such as using pronouns like “I” and “me”.
Dr David Stillwell, a lecturer in Big Data Analytics at the University of Cambridge, and a co-author on the paper, told the University of Cambridge
, “The relationship between profanity and dishonesty is a tricky one. Swearing is often inappropriate but it can also be evidence that someone is telling you their honest opinion. Just as they aren’t filtering their language to be more palatable, they’re also not filtering their views. ”
However, experts explained that the study still has limitations. Geographical locations of people may vary their views about profanity. For example, those living in the northeastern states (such as Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and New York) were more likely to swear whereas people were less likely to in the southern states (South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi).