Re­search into the ef­fects of swear­ing on phys­i­cal strength and per­for­mancet

Vocable (All English) - - Découverte - IAN SAM­PLE

Ac­cord­ing to Bri­tish psy­chol­o­gists, who have con­ducted some rather amus­ing ex­per­i­ments, swear­ing dur­ing phys­i­cal ex­er­cise makes us stronger. The study did not cover this but we think swear­ing in English may be even more ef­fi­cient! It might be time to loosen your tongue!

It isn’t big and it isn’t clever. But the ben­e­fits, known to any­one who has moved home, climbed a moun­tain, or pushed a broken- down car, have fi­nally been con­firmed: ac­cord­ing to psy­chol­o­gists, swear­ing makes you stronger.


2. The up­side of let­ting pro­fan­i­ties fly emerged from a se­ries of ex­per­i­ments with peo­ple who repeated ei­ther a swear word or a neu­tral word as they pounded away on an ex­er­cise bike, or per­formed a sim­ple hand-grip test. When peo­ple cursed their way through the half-minute bike chal­lenge, their peak power rose by 24 watts on av­er­age, ac­cord­ing to the study. In the 10-sec­ond grip task, swear­ers boosted their strength by the equiv­a­lent of 2.1kg, re­searchers found. “In the short pe­riod of time we looked at there are ben­e­fits from swear­ing,” said Richard Stephens, a psy­chol­o­gist at Keele Univer­sity, who pre­sented the re­sults at the Bri­tish Psy­cho­log­i­cal So­ci­ety meet­ing in Brighton.

3. Stephens en­rolled 29 peo­ple aged about 21 for the cy­cling test, and 52 peo­ple with a typ­i­cal age of 19 for the hand-grip test. All were asked to choose a swear­word to re­peat in the stud­ies, based on a term they might ut­ter if they banged their head. For the neu­tral word, the vol­un­teers were asked to pick a word they might use to de­scribe a ta­ble, such as “wooden ” or “brown”. “We asked them to re­peat the word through­out each test,” Stephens said. “They don’t scream and shout it. They re­peat it in an even tone.” The work builds on pre­vi­ous re­search by Stephens, which found ev­i­dence that ex­ple­tives in­creased peo­ple’s tol­er­ance to pain .


4. The find­ings may not come as a sur­prise to those who have let rip with pro­fan­i­ties to spur them­selves on. Stephens re­calls a friend of his, Mark Foulkes, who in 2013 took part in a tan­dem bike ride from Read­ing to Barcelona to raise money for a mo­bile chemo­ther­apy unit. “Swear­ing was a prom­i­nent fea­ture of them pow­er­ing up the Pyre­nees,” Stephens said.

5. In the lat­est study, peo­ple’s heart rates did not rise any more when they swore, a find­ing that sug­gests the ex­ple­tives were not trig­ger­ing the so- called fight- or-flight re­sponse. “Quite why it is that swear­ing has these ef­fects on strength and pain tol­er­ance re­mains to be dis­cov­ered,” Ste- phens said. “We’re not telling peo­ple some­thing they don’t al­ready know, but we’re ver­i­fy­ing that in a sys­tem­atic and ob­jec­tive way,” he added. “I think peo­ple in­stinc­tively reach for swear­words when they hurt them­selves and when they’re look­ing for an ex­tra boost in per­for­mance.”

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