The use of swearwords is a considerable societal phenomenon. Whereas swearing is unacceptable and forbidden under some circumstances, it is quite common and even popular in others. Although some scientific attention has been directed at the content of swearwords, virtually nothing is known about people's reasons to swear, or about the (perceived) efficacy of swearing. In the present study, 72 female undergraduate students completed several questionnaires pertaining to swearing, aggression, and life satisfaction. It was found that respondents reported to swear quite regularly, that the expression of negative emotions was the most prominent reason to swear, and that respondents realised that swearing is not a very fruitful reaction. Furthermore, while swearing was associated with various other forms of aggression, it was not correlated with (lack of) life satisfaction.

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Personality and Individual Differences
Department of Psychology

Rassin, E., & Muris, P. (2005). Why do women swear? An exploration of reasons for and perceived efficacy of swearing in Dutch female students. Personality and Individual Differences, 38(7), 1669–1674. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2004.09.022