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Is swearing a sign of intelligence?

Is swearing a sign of intelligence?
/ Dimitri Otis / Stone / Getty Images

Polite society considers swearing to be a mark of low intelligence and sees the use of obscene language as a sign that the speaker lacks the creativity to express themselves in a less offensive way. But research says otherwise. In fact, swearing may be a sign of verbal superiority and may provide other possible rewards as well.

"The advantages of swearing are many," said Timothy Jay, professor emeritus of psychology at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. "The benefits of swearing have just emerged in the last two decades, as a result of a lot of research on brain and emotion, along with much better technology to study brain anatomy," Jay said.

Science has also found a positive link between profanity and honesty. It seems people who often curse are far more honest and have higher levels of integrity.

"When you're honestly expressing your emotions with powerful words, then you're going to come across as more honest," said Professor Jay, who was not involved in the studies.

And that’s not all; profanity also helps your endurance and helps to increase your tolerance to pain.

"So, it seems like by swearing you're triggering an emotional response in yourself, which triggers a mild stress response, which carries with it a stress-induced reduction in pain," psychologist Richard Stephens, told CNN in an interview.

Studies have also shown that swearing relieves stress and gives us a greater sense of power and control over a bad situation. It can serve as a source of mirth as well and it can be used to emphasize that we really mean something, or that something is really important to us. Finally, the health benefits of swearing include increased circulation, elevated endorphins, and an overall sense of calm, control, and well-being.

Oh, and did we mention swearing is also linked to creativity. Yes, folks, people who aren't afraid to curse, tend to be far more creative. 

Scientifically speaking, a penchant for profanity doesn’t seem to be such a bad thing after all. 



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