Cursing makes you feel better when hurt: study

By Kase Wickman
Monday, April 18, 2011 13:04 EDT
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Ever hear someone scolded for their curse-laden language when they hurt themselves? Those finger-waggers who say cursing doesn’t help now should bite their tongues, then perhaps cuss to make it better. Researchers at Keele University released findings showing that letting loose a string of expletives actually has the effect of dulling the sensation of pain.

Researchers had volunteers dunk their hands into icy water and curse, and measured how long they could stand to keep their hands submerged. Then, they measured how long the volunteers could keep their hands in the freezing water while reciting harmless, “clean” language. The volunteers lasted longer while cursing, and the students who didn’t usually curse found the pain-dulling effects of cussing four times stronger than their more foul-mouthed peers.

The Telegraph explained that cursing could trigger a fight-or-flight response, raising heart rate and aggression levels.

“Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon,” Dr. Richard Stephens, who worked on the project, told the Telegraph. “Our research shows one potential reason why swearing developed and why it persists.”

Creative Commons image via flickr user Max_Knight.

Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman
Kase Wickman is a reporter for Raw Story. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and grew up in Eugene, OR. Her work has been featured in The Boston Globe, Village Voice Media, The Christian Science Monitor, The Houston Chronicle and on NPR, among others. She lives in New York City and tweets from @kasewickman.
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