Do you swear like a sailor? You're probably more honest than most
A new study says your potty mouth might make you easier to trust.
Oweeeee! You just stubbed your toe for the 15th time in one day on that same darn corner of the couch, didn't you?
We know, because you did something you try really hard not to do: you let out one little curse word. Oops!
But wait. Before you start apologizing to everyone around you for briefly violating a basic social norm, take note: A new study found that people who use profanity are more honest and authentic than people who don't.
Hear that, parents? Just get the kid his @$%#ing cupcake!
The study, led by Israeli-born neuroscientist Gilad Feldman of Maastricht University in The Netherlands, was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. It was actually an analysis of three separate international studies asking one common question: Is there really a link between profanity and honesty?
Previously, consensus seemed to fall in the opposite camp: that people who curse are more likely to be dishonest. After all, cursing is immoral, right? What kind of society would we be if we encouraged people to curse more? Are people who curse really worried about social norms? Wouldn't they be more inclined to break the rules – including lying?
But the paper written by Feldman, an alumnus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, revealed something entirely different. After surveying 276 people on the frequency of their swearing and how they characterize their honesty, the researchers found that the respondents who scored higher on the honesty scale also scored higher on the profanity scale.
The research didn't stop there, though. Feldman and his colleagues also analyzed about 70,000 social media interactions and assessed the presence of profanity in each. They took several factors into account; one, for example, is how often they used words like "I" and "me."
The team's third round of research analyzed profanity by state. There, they found that profanity varies greatly according to what part of the country people live in.
In South Carolina, for example, people who scored lower on the profanity scale also scored lower on the integrity scale. Along the same lines, people in New Jersey (who all apparently swear like sailors) showed high levels of integrity and openness.
“In three studies, at both the individual and society level, we found that a higher rate of profanity use was associated with more honesty," the researchers wrote.
So, in conclusion, the next time you let one slip in the heat of the moment – see "same darn corner of the couch," above – don't beat yourself up. Don't even hold your tongue in the future. Let it out, and the world will thank you.
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Related Topics: Science