Use of offensive language or profanity is considered indecent and is absolutely intolerable to some. It could be in the form of vulgar words or cursing, and is usually associated with uncontrolled emotions of rage or frustration. People easily use “God” or “Christ” in vain when frustrated, and one of the most frequently used expressions during messages even has its own acronym: “OMG.” Should such people be labelled sacrilegious?
Contrary to popular belief, psychologists have found that individuals who swear are just being honest.
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Scientists report in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science that individuals who use profanity are generally not associated with untruthful or deceptive behaviors. In fact, persons who use profane words are actually the most sincere, as they express themselves freely and genuinely. “Swearing is often inappropriate, but it can also be evidence that someone is telling you their honest opinion,” study co-author Dr. David Stillwell said in an interview with the University of Cambridge. U.S. President Donald Trump is mentioned as an example by the investigators of the study; he swore during his election campaign, but some considered him to be more straightforward than his opponents.
A survey of 276 individuals, including social media users, was conducted by Social Psychological and Personality Science to measure how profanity was linked to truthfulness. Participants were questioned using a lie test on their frequently used swear words and their reasons for using them. Individuals who wrote a higher number of swear words were more likely to be truthful. Another survey consisted of 75,000 Facebook users who used swear words in their exchanges; the study found that those who used more swear words also used language patterns that have been shown in prior research to be linked to honesty.
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Today, we are surrounded by media that is littered with crude and foul language, so we take it lightly, as it is a part and parcel of life. When Colonel Jessup in the movie A Few Good Men curses, the dialogue becomes immortal, the character powerful, and the movie popular. So how far can we go with profanity? Dr. David Stillwell told University of Cambridge: “The relationship between profanity and dishonesty is a tricky one…Just as they aren’t filtering their language to be more palatable, they’re also not filtering their views.”
It remains up to us whether we should relax our standards and accommodate words that would help us to express ourselves freely or whether we should we mind our vocabulary.
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