Monday, July 6, 2009

Cussing reduces pain

Why do people swear? “Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon” says Dr Richard Stephens, proposing that swearing can increase pain tolerance. His UK-based Keele University team asked volunteers to submerge hands in ice water for as long as possible while repeating a swear word of their choice. Then they repeated the experiment using a more commonplace, non-swear word. The volunteers were able to keep hands submerged in the ice water significantly longer when saying the swear word. Researchers believes a pain-lessening effect occurs because swearing triggers our natural ‘fight-or-flight’ response. The accelerated heart rates of the volunteers repeating the swear word may indicate an increase in aggression, in a classic fight-or-flight response of "downplaying feebleness in favor of a more pain-tolerant machismo." Illustration courtesy of the talented Surfdoggie