Swearing may make the pain feel better
Have you ever stubbed your toe or bumped your head and immediately yelled out a swear word? Researchers now say that pain can be more tolerable if you simply utter a curse word of your choice.
While many of us swear while experiencing pain, there hasn’t been any research connecting cuss words and pain.
“Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon,” said Richard Stephens of Keele University in England. “It taps into emotional brain centers and appears to arise in the right brain, whereas most language production occurs in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain.”
Researchers set out to test whether swearing affected a person’s tolerance to pain. They figured that it would lessen an individual’s pain tolerance, but found that the opposite was true.
They took sixty four undergraduates and had them submerge their hand in ice cold water for as long as they could while repeating a swear word of their choosing. The researchers then repeated the experiment with a word used to describe a table.
They found that the individuals kept their hand under the ice cold water longer when repeating a swear word. Stephens and his colleagues say that swearing might raise aggression and that it could downplay weaknesses.
“Our research shows one potential reason why swearing developed and why it persists,” Stephens said.
This study was published in the August 5 issue of NeuroReport.