Smash your finger with a hammer or slam your knee on a coffee table… and, if you’re like many people, you can’t help but let loose a string of expletives. It turns out the swearing could be beneficial. A new study published in the journal NeuroReport found that spewing out bad language may actually relieve pain.
The researchers asked college students to keep their hands in icy cold water as long as they possibly could. During their “ordeal,” they were told to keep repeating either a swear word of their choice or a neutral word. The “swearers” reported less pain and could stand the water almost a minute longer.
So why does swearing help? The researchers think it might have something to do with the “fight-or-flight” reflex triggered by the brain when we are in danger. This primitive defense mechanism not only makes the heart rate climb (a reaction observed in the students who swore), it makes us less sensitive to pain.
(Source: Scientific American)