People Who Swear Are More Honest, New Study Says

April 3, 2017

(Unfortunately) swearing in public is usually not an acceptable form of social behavior. However, it seems that people who tend to be more open about the language they use, meaning people who use profane language, are actually found to be more honest and trustworthy.

Namely, a thorough study was conducted about two years ago by the scientists at Cambridge University and the Department of Work and Psychology in Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and the results were then published in January 2017 in form of a paper titled “Frankly, we do give a damn: The relationship between profanity and honesty.” This rather thought-provoking study implies that folks who swear a lot are usually the ones who should be trusted more.

Expressing Oneself Rather Than Attacking Others

“Profanity was associated with less lying and deception at the individual level, and with higher integrity at the society level,” says the researcher Gilad Feldman of the Department of Work and Psychology in Maastricht University.

What they found was that the people tested were more likely to swear in order to express themselves rather than to use the profane language to attack others.

On the other hand, people who were found to be liars were much more likely to use third-person pronouns or negative words.

“There are two ways of looking at it,” says the study’s co-author, David Stillwell, from the University of Cambridge.

“You might think if someone is swearing a lot, this is a negative social behavior seen as a bad thing to do, so if someone swears they are probably a bad person as well. On the other hand, they are not filtering their language so they are probably also not putting their stories about what is going on through similar filters which might turn them into untruths. That is what we seemed to land on in this study, that people who use the language that comes to mind first are less likely to be playing games with the truth.”

This is perhaps why most politicians tend not to swear.

You can read the whole paper here.