If you believe that swearing has an effect on the receiver only, then you might be in for a surprise. Dr. Emma Byrne, a scientist and a journalist and public speaker, has cited in her book “Swearing is Good For You: The Aamzing Science of Bad Language”,swearing someone can make you feel good if the words are used judiciously. An alumna of the British Science Association Media Fellowship, Dr. Emma Byrne also works actively in the field of Artificial Intelligence and robotics.

Less Pain due to Swearing

Dr. Emma Byrne in her book cites an important study done by Dr. Richard Stephens, who is a psychologist and author of Black Sheep: The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad.

In the experiment, Dr. Richard Stephens coaxed his students to immerse their hands in ice-cold water for as long as they could stand, and do it not just once but twice, once while swearing and once not. The results showed that subject’s heart rates went up and their perception went down i.e. they experienced lesser pain when they sweared. page 67 68

The book cites a study where it was cleary visible that participants experienced lesser pain when the observer was changed. When male patients are asked to respond about the level of pain stimulus, they are likely to say that it hurts less when the person collecting the data is a woman. page 67 68

Effects of Swearing At Workplace

Dr. Emma cites a study in her book which was done by Dr Barbara Plester. According to Dr. Barbara, employees may feel included if they are involved in the banter. When Kara, one of the women working in an IT company in NewZealand, was given the name “evil, remote-control woman” by her colleagues, she took it as a sign of recognition.

Now, before you start swearing your colleagues or make fun of them, it has to be noted that it everything depends on your comfort level with the colleagues. In the study done on the IT office colleagues of NewZealand, Dr. Barbara’s research team realized employees threw a lot of jokes and that ‘Many of the jokes are outright racist, sexist or otherwise personal.’, however only a few crossed the people’s boundaries. Also, some type of jokes were hurled onto others only in the case when they themselves made fun of it or made fun of others regarding the same for e.g. jokes related to weight.

Other Interesting Claims from the Book

While men may swear more than women, the gap is narrowing

Swearing at each other can actually help in Team bonding, as per the author.

Football fans often use the word “***k” and “***t” but the placement of those words in respect to each other’s can give an indication about the mood of the swear.

Author’s remarks

Dr. Emma Byrne opines that swear words can be a powerful potent if used judiciously and their uses can help in withstand pain, diffuse stress, bond with our colleagues and even help us to learn new languages.