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WTF? Study Shows Those With a Potty Mouth Are More Trustworthy #science #news

For those of us who find themselves being the target of disdain for using foul language – a new defense might work:

People who swear may be more trustworthy, according to researchers.

In the three-part study, published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal – an international team led by Gilad Feldman of Maastricht University in the Netherlands analysed swearing in society.

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First, the team studied 276 people to find out how they curse. They asked participants to list their favourite swear words and to ‘self-report’ their everyday use of profanity. Researchers also asked the subjects to note down the emotions they associate with those swear words – anger, exasperation or fear for example.

The foul-mouthed test subjects were also asked to fill in a psychological survey to gauge their honesty which helped rank how likely they were to lie.

The team found that those who lied less wrote down a higher number of frequently used swear words.

The majority of respondents also reported that their swearing was typically used to express negative emotions – like anger.

The researchers note, however, that studying profanity can be tricky. They say the rate of profanity decreases when people know they are being analysed.

This is why, in their second study – researchers turned to social media, drawing from earlier studies which found that Facebook offers a fairly accurate portrayal of a users personality,

Around 70,000 Facebook profiles were analysed with the team focusing on the presence of profanities and other signifiers of honesty online. They used an approach which claims that liars online use fewer first and third-person pronouns like I, me, she and their, and fewer exclusive words like but and exclude.

This model, when first used by a research team in 2003, achieved an accuracy rate of 67% when detecting lies.

The final study looked at existing public records from the US State Integrity Investigation.

The study concludes:

We set out to provide an empirical answer to competing views regarding the relationship between profanity and honesty.

We found that a higher rate of profanity use was associated with more honesty.


There are two conflicting perspectives regarding the relationship between profanity and dishonesty. These two forms of norm-violating behavior share common causes and are often considered to be positively related.

On the other hand, however, profanity is often used to express one’s genuine feelings and could therefore be negatively related to dishonesty.

In three studies, we explored the relationship between profanity and honesty. We examined profanity and honesty first with profanity behavior and lying on a scale in the lab We found a consistent positive relationship between profanity and honesty; profanity was associated with less lying and deception at the individual level and with higher integrity at the society level.

Click here to read the rest of the study.


Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk

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