Why Do We Say the F-Word? For Pain Relief!

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We all have been warned that never swear or we would get soap in the mouth. But a recent study affirmed that swear words could actually be good for us.



Swearing increases 33% pain tolerance


Keele University psychologists have proven that using conventional swear words has a measurable effect on pain tolerance. In fact, dropping the F-bomb can increase pain tolerance by up to 33% compared to using other complaining languages, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology .


It is the first study to access the relationship between conventional swear words and pain tolerance, and further study is needed to confirm it.


A previous experiment in 2009 suggested that swearing in some specific situations can increase a person's pain threshold. 


Based on the 2009 experiment, Dr. Richard Stephens, senior lecturer in psychology, and Ph.D. researcher Olly Robertson conducted an "ice water" experiment to further study whether fake swear words function as the conventional ones.



How the ice water experiment went


To carry out this study, researchers created two fake swear words "twizpipe" and "fouch". 


They asked 92 participants to immerse their hands in ice-cold water and measured how long they could keep their hands in it. Participants could use conventional swear like the F-word or the two fake swear words when they were not able to keep it. 


The order of using those words was random, and each of the participants needed to repeat the experiment four times.



The F-word worked best


The study found that although fake swear words brought on emotional responses, they had little effect on increasing pain threshold. Expectedly, the F-word worked best.


The reason why conventional swear words can increase pain threshold is still unknown, but Dr. Stephens though it is "probably linked back to childhood as we learn swear words growing up."


Most of us let the F-word fly from our mouth when under pressure. It seems that we instinctively swear when experiencing pain. Now we have the perfect excuse to use those words without guilt.


Dr. Stephens said, "I would advise people, if they hurt themselves, to swear."



Occasional swearing matters


Now you may think that you can swear whenever and wherever you want since it has been backed up by science. Unfortunately, you cannot.


Dr. Stephens also cautioned that the more you swear, the less effective the swear words will be. He found in 2011 that frequent swearers may become desensitized to their own swearing and thus, it may become hard for them to be emotionally aroused by it.


Swearing is fine, but please do not overuse it.

1 Answer

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I agree with this article. Some good substitutes are, fudgesicles, biscuit eating bulldog, bologna stew, and one of my favorites flip and flap. I hope you have a great rest of the year.