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Swearing Helps Ease Physical Pain, According To Science

Photo by Jennifer A Smith/Getty Images

Good news for all you foul-mouthed mother—well you know the rest. According to a recent study, it turns out intelligent people are more likely to swear.

Researchers at the University of Rochester conducted a study testing 1,000 people on 400 average behavior traits. The main objective was to identify if there were recognizable behaviors for basic personality types. Some key characteristics might surprise you.

According to The Independent, people who possessed a higher intellect were more likely to curse, walk around the house naked, and eat spicy food in the morning. Extraverts, meanwhile, were characterized by traits like driving faster than 75mph, gambling, telling dirty jokes, and heavy drinking.

These findings were published in the Personality and Individual Difference journal. They also coincide with another recent study that links swearing and intelligence. Marist College in New York researchers found a link between curse words and higher rhetorical skills. In addition, those that can name the most swear words within a minute often have a grander vocabulary.

“A voluminous taboo lexicon may better be considered an indicator of healthy verbal abilities rather than a cover for their deficiencies,” the researchers wrote. “Speakers who use taboo words understand their general expressive content as well as nuanced distinctions that must be drawn to use slurs appropriately. The ability to make nuanced distinctions indicates the presence of more rather than less linguistic knowledge, as implied by the POV [Poverty of Vocabulary] view.”

This battles against the long-held stereotype that people who swear have nothing nice to say. But that’s not cursing’s only benefit. University of Keele psychologists found that swearing can functions as a natural pain relief. Participants were asked to curse either before or during intensive workouts meant to cause physical discomfort. Among both trials, researchers found that cursing dramatically improved the participants’ performances.

Next time your mother tells you not to curse, just tell her to blame freaking science.

Brendan Bures: Brendan Bures is the Culture Editor at The Fresh Toast. He has written for ESPN’s The Undefeated, ATTN:, The Orlando Sentinel, NCAA.com, SBNation, and The Tallahassee Democrat, covering stories as varied as Florida State’s 2013 championship, OutKast’s ATLiens, and the pitfalls of celebrity’s social media.Previously, Brendan worked at Turner Sports as a desk editor for their collegiate sports department and served as Writing and Research Fellow for HRDCVR Magazine. There he spearheaded social media initiatives and led production of the HRDlist, a newsletter featuring diverse and important voices across multimedia channels. His work has also been recognized by the Associated Collegiate Press.