Typically, it is perceived that a person who curses a lot is less intelligent and less articulate. Now, there are 2 separate studies that are showing that those types of assumptions are just f*cking wrong. People who swear more often and more proficiently are being shown to be smarter, and to use more of their brains than those who don’t. Good luck trying to convince your mom of this…
The first study was a simple one done by the Language Sciences Journal, and was done to test a theory called “poverty of vocabulary”. Basically, the notion was that a person swears more because they don’t know what else to say. If your vocabulary is poor, you use the most basic words you know to express yourself. The test was simple: people were asked to say as many swear words as they could in one minute. Then they were asked to name off things like plants or animals for one minute.
Researchers were shocked to find that the people who could throw out the most curse words also could name off the most random items, as well.
So in the end, the people that could curse more were actually more articulate, not less.
According to the authors of the study, Timothy and Kristin Jay, “The overall finding of this set of studies, that taboo fluency is positively correlated with other measures of verbal fluency, undermines the POV [Poverty of Vocabulary] view of swearing. That is, a voluminous taboo lexicon may better be considered an indicator of healthy verbal abilities rather than a cover for their deficiencies.”
In another, somewhat related study, Jeff Wilser and Dr. Richard Stephens speculated that swear words actually come from a deeper part of the brain than the rest of our language skills. They researched women who were going through childbirth, where you are certain to hear an f-bomb or three, and found that out brains like curse words. In their research they say, ““We only do things that give us rewards or benefits; that’s just the way the world is.” In the birthing study and other pain-related tests, Wilser and Stephens concluded: “There’s indirect evidence that swearing isn’t associated with the cortex — where most language is – but instead taps into the deeper parts of the brain structure.”
Stephens also did another test similar to the study where people were asked to list off swear words where he assigned a point system to curse words as a test of “swearing fluency”.
Stephens explained, “You can say ‘f*ck’ or ‘f*ck-face’ or ‘f*cking,’ but that’s just a variation of ‘f*ck,’” says Stephens in his pleasant English accent — this was easily the highlight of my research. “So ‘f*ck-face’ gets one point, but you can’t look around the room and say ‘f*ck-table.’” Again, it was found that people who swore more were smarter and more expressive.
So, in the end, research says that those who swear are actually more expressive and use more of their brains than those who don’t. So the next time someone raises an eyebrow at your prolific use of the f-word, just remind them that you are f’ing smarter than they are.