Cursing is strangely satisfying, isn’t it? There’s something indulgent about issuing a statement peppered with profanity, almost like having a second serving of mashed potatoes knowing the first would have sufficed. It just makes the message seem all the more urgent—important, even.
Though the use of swear words are commonly believed to be rude or reserved for those lacking etiquette, the next time somebody shoots you a darted glance after cursing over cocktails, feel free to tell them to “Fuck off!” Why? A new study has found that people who swear are more honest and genuine, which aren’t the worst characteristics in a person.
The study, taken on by a collective of educational institutions including the University of Cambridge, Maastricht University, Hong Kong University and Stanford, asked 276 participants point blank why they curse during social interactions. In true, honest fashion, the participants shared that, when they swore, they felt they were being more honest about their feelings.
Unsatisfied with the scale of that study, the researchers took the task to Facebook, studying the profanity scores of social interactions among 73,789 people on the platform. They then took these results and compared them to some elusive “integrity index” of each U.S. state.
Again, the results found more of the same, which was “a consistent positive relationship between profanity and honesty,” adding that profanity was associated with less lying and deception at the individual level and with higher integrity at the society level.
“The main thing we found is if you filter your language when speaking, then you’re probably filtering what you’re saying as well,” said David Stilwell, a researcher from the University of Cambridge. “You are less likely to be about what you think and more about what you think other people want to hear.”
He continued, “Someone who does not filter their language [and] swears is more likely to be saying what they think to be true, [thus] are being more honest and genuine.”
In other words, everybody likes to swear, it’s just the more honest people who actually do it. That makes sense.
This is yet another study in a line of recent research suggesting the positive impacts of cursing. In 2015, a study published in the journal Language Sciences found that those who swore were more likely to have advanced language abilities. They discovered this promising result by asking more than 200 students to recite as many swear words as they could in 10 seconds, then asked them to name as many animals as they could in a minute.
It turns out, something called “taboo fluency” with expletives strongly correlates to fluency with animal names, suggesting that cursing indicates a better facility with language.
So the next time you’re at a party, let the others at the table see how smart and honest you are and swear your fucking ass off. It’s for their benefit.