Profanity often refers to language that contains sexual references, blasphemous and other offensive terms that are considered inappropriate and unacceptable in some social settings, but a multinational team of psychologists from the Netherlands, the UK, the USA and Hong Kong report that people who use profanity frequently are more trustworthy than most who don’t. The team also cites the President-elect Donald Trump’s use of swear words in some of his speeches while campaigning in last year’s US election as an example of vulgarity coming across as honesty, and that his expressions appeared to be more genuine than most of his rivals.
“The relationship between profanity and dishonesty is a tricky one.” said Dr David Stillwell, who co-author the study, in a news release. “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 the study, 276 participants were asked to write down their favorite swear words and rate their reasons for using those words before taking part in a lie test to determine whether they were being truthful or simply responding in the way they thought was socially acceptable. The team found that those who listed a higher number of curse words were less likely to lie. They also further collected data from 75,000 Facebook users to measure their use of swear words in their online social interactions. They found that users who used more curse words were also more likely to use language patterns that have been shown in previous study to be associated with trustworthiness.
While swearing can be unsuitable to many, it is still an expression. Next time you come across someone who has an aversion to swearing, like saying “cr#p, f@#k or s#^t” sounds offensive to him/her, just stay away. That person could be one of the most deceitful person you have ever come across.
Reference: Frankly, we do give a damn: The relationship between profanity and honesty – Social Psychological and Personality Science