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If You Curse a Lot, It Probably Means You’re More Honest

Science By
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Confession: I’ve had a dirty mouth since I was, like, five. My neighbor claims that he learned every bad word from me—and if you’ve spent any time around me lately, you’ll know that I drop an F-cluster-bomb every few words. While some might believe that makes me some sort of miscreant, a recent study says otherwise: I could be the most honest person you know.

The idea here isn’t altogether novel, but it’s one that gets overlooked when you’re on the other end of a profanity-laced tirade: sincerity, for some, is displayed through cursing. In their findings, researchers say “profanity is often used to express one’s genuine feelings, and could therefore be negatively related to dishonesty.”

During the study, the experts—hailing from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, Hong Kong University, Stanford University, and Cambridge University (U.K.)—examined cursing and honesty in ways such as how people interact with one another on Facebook (profanity rate vs. honesty in status updates) and the degree to which integrity/corruption affects America on the state level (this was in order to investigate how the profanity/honesty theory could reflect on society). For example, two of the highest-scoring states for profanity rates were New Jersey and Connecticut. They likewise had the highest integrity indexes.

Overall, the results of the study are striking. Researchers found a “consistent positive relationship between profanity and honesty,” leading to “less lying and deception at the individual level” and “higher integrity at the society level.” Now, that’s pretty f—ing incredible.

Click on this link to read the full study.

—Will Levith for RealClearLife