Great news for all of us who've been bottling up those nasty words to be polite. Now we can last out all our pent-up anger, because a new study says that swearing helps reduce pain.
The study of responses to pain found that people who cursed in response to pain could cope with being hurt for almost 50% longer than their clean-mouthed peers.
This study came about as experts at Keele University's School of Psychology thought that cursing would lower pain tolerance. But after monitoring reactions of 64 volunteers, research leader Dr Richard Stephens and collegues John Atkins and Andrew Kingston discovered that swearing actually had a beneficial effect.
The 64 undergraduates had to go through a gruelling ice water test to see how cursing affected their pain tolerence.
First they had to submerge their hand in a tub of ice water for as long as possible while repeating a swearword of their choice. Then they repeated the exercise - but using a word they would choose to describe a table.
Researchers found that volunteers could keep their hands in the ice water longer when repeating the swear word. The students could put up with the pain for an average of two minutes when swearing, whereas when they couldn't use swear words, they could only stand the ice for a minute and 15 seconds.
The researchers believe that swearing has a pain-reducing effect as it triggers the body's natural flight-or-fight response. They suggest the accelerated heat rates of the students repeating the swear words indicates an increase in aggression, downplaying being hurt in favour of a more pain-tolerant machismo.
"We are not sure why swearing works like this, but when it happens it's accompanied by an increase in heart rate," Dr Stephens said. "It could be the aggression of swearing, the machismo, makes you more pain resistant."
Though, Dr Stephens says this doesn't mean people should be swearing all the time, and we should "only do it when they really need it," like, when your professor makes you stuff your hand in ice to get an A grade.
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