Viewport width =
March 15, 2015 | by  | in Science |
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

Cursing for Catharsis

We’ve all been there: you wake up in the middle of the night, stumble to the bathroom or kitchen like a zombie, when your most vulnerable toes are ambushed by cruelly placed furniture. “SHIIIIIIIT!”

But why do we leap to profanity when faced with sudden pain? Researchers at Keele University set out with the hypothesis that swearing upon pain infliction would increase pain perception and reduce pain tolerance. Instead, they found the exact opposite—when faced with pain and discomfort, our cursing is curiously cathartic.

Pain tolerance and pain perception in relation to swearing was examined with 64 students partaking the “Cold-Pressure” test. Participants were split into separate conditions, before submerging their hand in ice water for as long as possible. One condition required the student repeat a chosen swear word repeatedly, one group would repeat a “neutral word”. Those allowed to swear demonstrated significantly longer tolerance of the ice water, along with less perceived pain, and an elevated heart rate.

While the same hypothesis has been looked into by other researchers, as of yet there is no conclusive explanation why swearing reduces pain. However, it has been proposed that swearing triggers the “fight-or-flight” response, which accelerates the heart and reduces pain sensitivity.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.

Recent posts

  1. An (im)possible dream: Living Wage for Vic Books
  2. Salient and VUW tussle over Official Information Act requests
  3. One Ocean
  4. Orphanage voluntourism a harmful exercise
  5. Interview with Grayson Gilmour
  6. Political Round Up
  7. A Town Like Alice — Nevil Shute
  8. Presidential Address
  9. Do You Ever Feel Like a Plastic Bag?
  10. Sport
1

Editor's Pick

In Which a Boy Leaves

: - SPONSORED - I’ve always been a fairly lucky kid. I essentially lucked out at birth, being born white, male, heterosexual, to a well off family. My life was never going to be particularly hard. And so my tale begins, with another stroke of sheer luck. After my girlfriend sugge