Stub your toe or knock your funny bone and you might automatically want to swear. And with good reason: experts have found that swearing can help to reduce pain and lower stress levels. Despite previously believing that cursing led to pain feeling worse, a psychologist managed to prove that swearing dulls pain by sticking 67 of his students in an icy cold bath. One group was allowed to swear, while the other was only allowed to say neutral words. Dr. Richard Stephens found that swearing increased his students’ pain threshold by as much as 50 percent.
On average, students could tolerate the pain for nearly two minutes when swearing but only one minute 15 seconds when they didn’t. The effects were greatest on those who only occasionally swear, rather than those of us who swear regularly.
Said Stephens: “If (people) want to use this pain-lessening effect to their advantage they need to do less casual swearing. Swearing is emotional language but if you overuse it, it loses its emotional attachment.”