You may want to rethink your New Year’s resolution this year if you’ve vowed to swear less, because a recent study entitled, ‘Frankly, we do give a damn: The relationship between profanity and honesty’ has found that the more foul-mouthed and vulgar among us are the most honest.
Researchers from the Universities of Hong Kong, Stanford, Cambridge and Maastricht have found a link between profanity and honesty. According to the study, profanity can include sexual references, vulgarity, offensive slang and anything else considered socially inappropriate.
First the researchers asked a group of 276 participants about their swearing habits, as well as how honest they were in different situations; it found that the most honest people were also the heaviest swearers. In addition they also discovered that people were more likely to use swearing as a way to express their emotions, rather than in an anti-social or harmful way towards others.
In a second study the researchers tested these findings in a more real-life environment, by analysing the status updates of more than 73,000 Facebook users.
They measured for honesty (previous research shows liars prefer to use third-person pronouns than first-person ones and more negative words) and profanity. Once again, they found that honest people were more likely to use profane language.
Finally, they used previous data to compare the integrity levels of US states with how often they swear – the results returned the same conclusion.
Perhaps it’s time to pack away the swear jar.