Amanda Coetzee
2 minute read
22 Jan 2019
3:28 pm

People who swear are highly intelligent, contrary to common belief

Amanda Coetzee

Psychologists say that people who tend to swear a lot are more at ease with expressing themselves.

Picture: iStock

Highly intelligent people usually view the world and the things around them differently. Research shows they usually also have a substantial supply of swear words at their disposal as well as a rich vocabulary.

Many people judge and avoid people who swear as they believe that they are unable to express themselves appropriately and are therefore limited in their thought processes as well. It turns out that it’s not uneducated or stupid people who swear a lot.

Psychologists Kristin Jay of Marist College and Timothy Jay of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts believe it may just be the opposite.

Picture: iStock

They found that the skills to make up new swear words are closely related to having an extensive vocabulary and excellent language fluency. People with a high IQ tend to have both of these and are therefore good at coming up with novel swear words.

For the first experiment, they gathered 43 participants (30 women) aged between 18 and 22 and asked them to rattle off as many swear or taboo words as they could in 60 seconds. The participants ended up generating a total of 533 taboo words.

Next, they had to recite as many animal names as they could in 60 seconds. The researchers used animal names as an indication of a person’s overall vocabulary and interest in language. The participants also submitted to so-called FAS tasks, which are standardised verbal fluency tests.

Publishing in the journal Language Sciences, the researchers found that there was little difference between what the female and male participants could come up with. They found that the ability to generate curse words was not an indication of language poverty – in fact, they found that taboo fluency is positively correlated with other measures of verbal fluency.

This challenges the long-held stereotype that people swear because they can’t find more intelligent words with which to express themselves.

People who swear a lot may also be more honest. Psychologists say that people who tend to swear a lot are more at ease while expressing themselves. This suggests that they are more true to themselves than those who tend to mince their words or hold back entirely.

A series of crime case studies were also looked at to assess whether honest people tend to swear a lot. Innocent suspects are more likely to curse than a guilty one who is denying accusations.

Read the original article on Alberton Record

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