Monday, July 13, 2009

Swearing and Biology

I was listening to WCBS 880 on my way in to work this morning when I heard an interesting piece on swearing from The Osgood File. According to the story, swearing is nature's aspirin and in fact there's a biological effect when we swear. A psychologist in England was at his wife's side during labor and witnessed his demure wife's expletive laced tirade during the worst of labor. Witnessing this he was curious as to whether there's a biological reason that people swear and he decided to hold a study using a group of undergrads. In the study, he asked the students to write down five swear words they'd yell out if they were to hit themselves with a hammer and five words they'd use to describe a table. Then the students were asked to place their hands in ice cold water and keep them there until the pain was unbearable. As the pain got worse, half of the students were allowed to use their swear words, and the other half had to use the words for table.

Well, the swearing did the job, and had a biological effect on the swearing students by increasing their heart rate and allowing them to endure the pain longer than the other non-swearing students and, supposedly they felt less pain after it was all over also.

So, next time you hit yourself with a hammer, stub your toe, or bang your funny bone...let'er rip. You'll feel better after.