We all have that one friend whose vocabulary is comparable to that of a sailor – and if no one comes to mind, you may want to look in the mirror! While your parents may have tried to teach you growing up that this is the person to avoid, new evidence reveals that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, the friend with the colorful vocabulary may just be the best friend you’ve got. A 2017 survey discovered that people who swear more often have higher integrity and lower deception levels. Therefore, if they can’t help saying shit, then they are likely more honest and trustworthy.
The study was published in the journal ‘Social Psychological and Personality Science’, a joint effort by researchers in the United States, Netherlands, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. Dr. David Stillwell, a lecturer in Big Data Analytics at the University of Cambridge and co-author on the paper explained, “The relationship between profanity and dishonesty is a tricky one. Swearing is often inappropriate but it can also be evidence that someone is telling you their honest opinion. Just as they aren’t filtering their language to be more palatable, they’re also not filtering their views.”
In order to analyze the connection between profanity and trustworthiness, the research team asked 276 participants to make a list of their favorite and most commonly used swear words. They were then asked to go through and rate the reasons they use each of these words. In order to see how their level of profanity would then translate into honesty, each of the participants was asked to participate in a lie detector test designed to determine whether they were simply giving the answers they believed society expected them to give or the actual truth. They found that those who had a larger vocabulary of swear words tested with a higher level of honesty thank those who provided a shorter list of words.
The team then conducted a second survey in order to verify their findings. This time they analyzed data from 75,000 Facebook users to see how often swear words appeared in their online interactions. They discovered a link between those who swore more often and language patterns that were related to honesty.
This isn’t the first time that researchers have explored the stereotype that those who swear are the negative and toxic people in the world. In 2015, a team of psychologists from Marist College found that there is a direct correlation between people who are fluent in profanity and their grasp of the English language. Asking participants to complete both a verbal fluency test and a swearing fluency test, researchers found that those who scored higher on one statistically scored higher on the other. By this measure, the friends who swear more often are the most intelligent in your social circle.
Plus, let’s be honest, the people who swear a lot are often more fun! Refusing to waste their time focusing on societies expectations, they make decisions in their life based on what feels ‘right’ for them. Along with their colorful language, they follow their hearts.