Swearing Actually a Sign of Intelligence, Suggests Brilliant F*cking Study

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Swearing Actually a Sign of Intelligence, Suggests Brilliant F*cking Study

swearing kid

Well, I'll be damned.

For most of our lives, our ass-hat parents and peers have tried to convince us that swearing was not only ill-mannered, but unintelligent. We've always known it to be bullshit -- George Carlin based entire bits around swear words and he was one of the smartest f*cking people to ever walk this planet -- but we've never had the goddamn evidence to back up ours, our his, claims.

Well, thank f*ck, everything is about to change.

That's because Drs. Kristin and Timothy Jay, two psychology-teaching sonsabitches over at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, have published new research in Language Sciences which argues that a fluence in swearing actually points towards a healthy verbal ability, not the "poverty of vocabulary" that's been previously suggested by linguistic experts (and our grandmas).

Basically, we're not dumbasses because we call each other "dumbass."

The study conducted to prove the Jay's theory was a simple, if interesting one: A group of students were tasked with saying as many swear words as they could think of in the span of one minute. The results, as BPS Research passes along, were that "taboo word fluency is correlated with general fluency." (Damn right it is.)

"The number of different swear words that could be thought of in one minute averaged 9; that the number of non-swear words averaged 14; while the number of animal words averaged 22," wrote BPG.

"But of more interest was the observation that these word production scores were positively correlated with one another. In other words, the volunteers who could produce the most swear words tended also to be able to produce the most animal words and non-swear words. Yet if swearing was a sign of an impoverished vocabulary, then the opposite should have been the case. The same pattern was seen when volunteers wrote down swear words rather than saying them out loud."

While not exactly what you would call "definitive proof" that swearing = intelligence -- the study failed to address the relationship between *frequency* of swear words used and a person's IQ, for instance -- the Jay's did more-or-less prove the "fluency-is-fluency" hypothesis that they set out to. In having a diverse vocabulary of swear words, it seems that dipshits like us are actually able to emotionally express ourselves more diversely than the average asshole.

So the next time you find yourself at a family party, gala event, or social gathering in general, show off your intelligence with a few finely crafted f-bombs. Got it, ya jackasses?

Source: BPS Research

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Fuckity fucking friggin fucknuts.

Now.... where's my PhD?

I fucking love the fucking way this fucking article was fucking written.

I'm going to assume I need to use different swear words to get the PhD correct?

Alternate hypothesis: efforts to curb swearing are utterly ineffective.

This means Vinny Jones has to be the smartest person on the planet!

So I wasn't wrong to call another kid a motherfucker in kindergarten :D

Taboo or profane language serves an important linguistic function. It would stand to reason that a more adapt use of them is something we could tie to intelligence.

I remember a study awhile back which linked swears to non-lingual sections of the brain in an attempt to show how they reveal a lack of intellect. Surely someone who rests on a singular word (like "fuck", which can be used for just about any grammatical purpose) doesn't have the mastery of language of someone who uses a larger assortment of terms. That certainly doesn't go against this study's findings.

The issue isn't as simple as "cursing is stupid" or "cursing is smart". It's really just a fairly obvious (and somewhat meaningless) fact that mastery of a language (including the profane bits) is an indicator of intelligence. Or, at the very least, is a standard by which we can measure intelligence (since the idea of "intellect" is, and always has been, extremely vague).

"fluency in swearing"

So just dropping fuck over and over does more to prove how unintelligent you are.

So instead of getting out babies to listen to Mozart they should be listening to George Carlin?

I'm on board with this.

I could tell you had great fun writing this one :)

So the ability to quickly recall words including swearwords is associated with fluency? What a shocker.

Bullshit! This study should know that swearing showcases intelligence in the "street shit" sense and not in the "book shit" sense...

Other than that, if someone ever told me to stop swearing, I would just say, "Linguistics, Muthafukka! Do ya speak it? Shit..."

Good laugh to read but...

Its obvious that the study merely showed the more literate KNEW more swear words, rather than actually USED them, and that is the key here, when to USE swear words.

That is actually a problem, people these days are so conditioned to hearing the casual use of swear words the words dont register effectively any more, not that long ago if someone dropped a f-bomb in public you would know instantly something big had effected that person... now its just part of talking.

How do we swear these days? You know when you want to really emphasise a point... it ain't just any point, its a FUCKING POINT!

Pfff... this study proves nothing of the kind.

Just knowing a lot of swears doesn't necessarily mean you use them regularly.

They're saying that if you have a large vocabulary, your vocabulary of swears will be proportionally large as well.

In other words, smart people are more creative and varied in their profanity. If you only drop F-bombs, you're probably still stupid, so try to mix it up a bit. Expand your "vulgabulary."

Using them effectively is the sign of a well patterned mind. Versatility, mental agility, those are great ways to determine intelligence level. If however one is constantly cursing with no fucking idea how to use them properly, that is a sign of what science calls "being a fucking moron."
Goddamn-son-of-a-bitch-pile-of-monkey-nuts-level morons. Of course exactly those types of people will ultimately believe their overusage of swearing means they're fucking genius-level intellectuals.

Metadigital:
Taboo or profane language serves an important linguistic function. It would stand to reason that a more adapt use of them is something we could tie to intelligence.

I remember a study awhile back which linked swears to non-lingual sections of the brain in an attempt to show how they reveal a lack of intellect. Surely someone who rests on a singular word (like "fuck", which can be used for just about any grammatical purpose) doesn't have the mastery of language of someone who uses a larger assortment of terms. That certainly doesn't go against this study's findings.

The issue isn't as simple as "cursing is stupid" or "cursing is smart". It's really just a fairly obvious (and somewhat meaningless) fact that mastery of a language (including the profane bits) is an indicator of intelligence. Or, at the very least, is a standard by which we can measure intelligence (since the idea of "intellect" is, and always has been, extremely vague).

Well that explained in the article. "Diversity is diversity", meaning that having knowledge of a wide variety of curse words also correlated with having knowledge of a wide variety of words in general. The study was not really used to further probe frequency use of individual words and the subbed in situations which the words are used for. That kind of study would take far longer to produce an accurate result for publishing.

Take a Mad Lib sentence and use as an example:

"Sally _____ the _____ dog while she _____ it to the _____ school"

A person with a short vocabulary of curse words would write it like so:

"Sally fucked the fucking dog while fucking it to the fucking school"

Clearly showing a failed grasp of creativity and short understanding of the English language.

And then with this example:

"Sally bitched at the bastard dog while she half-assed it to the shitty school"

That still is a very provocative sentence riddled with curse words. However the diversity shows a higher educational background than the previous iteration showed.

Oh wow, that's it: I'm stupid then. Really really stupid.

Reminded me of this from the Simpsons:

Faith: "Lisa, I'm Faith Crowley, Patriotism editor of Reading Digest."
Homer: "Oh I love your magazine. My favorite section is "How to increase your word power." That thing is really, really, really... good."

Another misleading science/research article on the Escapist, who could have guessed? As other people before me in this thread has said, it is not that swearing is a sign of intelligence. The finding was that people with a big vocabulary in general also had a big vocabulary of swear words, the former being one of the indicators of intelligence. Whatever or not intelligent people swear more or less is still up there.

when i was a kid in a kidergarten i actually got punished for being the most foul-mouthed kid in the entire kindergarden. am i superintelligent now?

Also does that mean that sites like IMDB are literally causing their users to be dumb by utilizing a censor on swear [1] words?

[1] and non-swear, for example Stalin is not allowed. Good luck discussing WW2 documentaries without use of Hitler or Stalin

Remus:
This means Vinny Jones has to be the smartest person on the planet!

I wouldn't be so sure about that

Swearing shows low class and vulgarity. It shows that you are agitated inside.

Teenagers, rappers, dockworkers and the French like swearing.

In the spirit of things, if any one needs a 'vocabulary booster', go watch Panty and Stocking you will learn all kinds of new words.

Wait, are you telling me that the ability to recall specific categories of words is correlated with overall vocabulary? Tell me it isn't true!

In all seriousness, this is just sad. The title of this article could be charitably described as "misleading", and more accurately described as click-bait (yes, I know how much people hate that word and I'll stop using it when it ceases to be true). The study shows that people who know more words overall also know more swear words, and doesn't suggest any link between how often people swear and their intelligence or vocabulary (as the title is designed to imply). In fact, according to the study the same thing can be said of animal names, and probably any other sub-category of words.

So, this is yet another study that prove something anyone with common sense could figure out that is being reported on as in-accurately as possible to generate clicks.
I know I'm supposed to be jovial about this due to the premise alone, but I just can't overlook how poor quality this article is, and how frequently such articles seem to appear around here. These are articles that aren't designed to be interesting content, but designed only to gleam a provocative title from.

Leon Royce:
Swearing shows low class and vulgarity. It shows that you are agitated inside.

Teenagers, rappers, dockworkers and the French like swearing.

The best critique of a research article is definitely saying "NUH-UH!"

I'm glad this exists because the "swear words restrict your vocabulary" argument is stupid and something that my Dad says to me all the fucking time.

I'd definitely like to see a study following up on this which actually shows arelationship between fluency and frequency of swearing because that would be a much more definitive in addressing that argument. It does seem to show that there's nothing special about swear words, they're just words (as it pertains to vocabulary) which is something I'm glad to see.

It's reasonable to assume that regularly using a word means you're better able to recall it but it's also possible that the effect of having a strong taboo against a word would have the same (or an even greater) effect on your ability to recall it.

My guess is that people who never swear and people who swear very very frequently will have lower word fluency than people who swear commonly but not excessively.

I should teach my child swears early so they could grow up to be a fucking genius.

malnin:
"fluency in swearing"

So just dropping fuck over and over does more to prove how unintelligent you are.

That's how I took it. I figured they mean that the more coherently you're able to weave your fucks with your cunts was a better indication than simply saying the word shitcock over and over and looking proud of yourself.

Fucking awesomely written piece there!
Proves the damn point just bloody fine!

K12:

Leon Royce:
Swearing shows low class and vulgarity. It shows that you are agitated inside.

Teenagers, rappers, dockworkers and the French like swearing.

The best critique of a research article is definitely saying "NUH-UH!"

I'm glad this exists because the "swear words restrict your vocabulary" argument is stupid and something that my Dad says to me all the fucking time.

I'd definitely like to see a study following up on this which actually shows arelationship between fluency and frequency of swearing because that would be a much more definitive in addressing that argument. It does seem to show that there's nothing special about swear words, they're just words (as it pertains to vocabulary) which is something I'm glad to see.

It's reasonable to assume that regularly using a word means you're better able to recall it but it's also possible that the effect of having a strong taboo against a word would have the same (or an even greater) effect on your ability to recall it.

My guess is that people who never swear and people who swear very very frequently will have lower word fluency than people who swear commonly but not excessively.

It's an Escapist "research" article. It's misreporting the actual study, which speaks of fluency in swearing. It's not about frequency. You can click through the the abstract from the article, the "Highlights" section. It says that fluency in Taboo language (Here being perjoratives and slurs) correlates to general fluency, and correlates with neuroticism and openness from their "Big Five" personality traits. And it negatively correlated with agreeableness and conscientiousness.

In other words, the article is mistaken.

Going down further into the actual abstract (AKA, further than the Escapist is willing to go). Bear in mind, that I'm not a psychologist, sociologist, nor familiar with their terms, so I'm literally looking them up on the go, my field is Engineering.

The study does not say that it's a "sign of intelligence". It doesn't even correlate intelligence. Intelligence, IQ, and any other measures of intelligence, aren't mentioned at all. It does mention fluency, and vocabulary, not intelligence.

In fact, it highlights negative associations too, that people with a high fluency in swearing tend to be more anxious, fearful, moody, envious, frustrated, jealous or lonely, and that they have less concern for social harmony and get along less well with others, being generally less considerate, kind, generous, trusting and trustworthy. So the Escapist has actually misled many users here that this is all positives. You can check this yourself, it's the "Big Five" personality model, and it references that neuroticism and openness are positively correlated, while agreeableness and conscientiousness were negatively correlated (ie, there's an inverse correlation, greater fluency in swears correlates with less agreeableness and conscientiousness).

What the study does say is that their results agree with the "fluency is fluency" hypothesis. That fluency in language is fluency in language, however vulgar. Which supports your statement at least. Of course, the Escapist manages to mess up the reporting here as well. The actual abstract does not say anything about linguists, and it's not overturning some prior status, they mention the folk assumption that swearing indicates a low vocabulary. Also, I'm fairly sure that the fluency is fluency hypothesis isn't something they coined. Unfortunately, the well for googling that has been poisoned by lazy, irresponsible, unethical reporting. They've actually managed to bury real science here with this. It's hard enough as it is to use the internet to search scholarly sources.

The article also says that the study "failed to address" the relation between intelligence and the frequency of swearing, which is just inane. It has no bearing or relation on what they were looking at, and is just a rewording from the BPS article they sourced this from. If you look it up, there's a bunch of piss-poor (Ooooh look how smart I ams, a swears, doesn't that show I'm clever, unlike say, reading an abstract, which is to understanding research papers as toe-dipping is to swimming) "science journalism" and "pop science" articles, all of which are calling it an intelligence correlation, as opposed to a vocabulary fluency one (Also, the study says nothing about the effectiveness of communication, and given the personality correlations, that should be very much up in the air).

In fact, while Royce doesn't seem to have supported their statement, the actual study does support their statements, and it supports them better than the article.

As always, the best critique of a research article is reading the actual research, and the actual research says that the article is mistaken, and actually full of shit.

Again, I am an engineer. I had to look up every bit of jargon in the abstract, including the proper definitions of common terms as they pertain to their use in the literature. This took me about 10 minutes. For an abstract, that one's actually pretty readable. This is more effort than any of the publications that reported on this went to, including the Escapist. And it shows a sad trend-that people aren't willing to click through to even the abstract. They are interested in the veneer of science, not the science itself. They're interested in having their biases confirmed and engaging in the cargo cult of popular science, rather than actual science. Any enthusiast can do what I did, and tear through this, you just need to have the desire to do so, and, ironically enough, the vocabulary to comprehend the article, and the definitions you'll need to properly parse their meaning, which for all their swearing, the Escapist has not demonstrated.

Also, as for "proof" or anything else, nobody has mentioned study size, the correlation, the error bars, presumably because none of these publications have a subscription, and couldn't fork out $36 to access the paper. I'm not fucked to do that, my university might let me access it, but that's a waste of time. It's journalist's job to parse this stuff and give us the important bits, saving us having to buy the article, and here they have utterly failed.

Frequent swearing may be sign of intelligence. But bad grammar isn't ("our his"?)

Loonyyy:
snip

I solely read articles like these just for these kinds of comments.

Thanks for doing the leg work!

Loonyyy:
snip (because that was long arse comment!

Thank you for offering a nice detailed deconstruction of a point I didn't make. Stating that a naked opinion is a terrible way of addressing or criticising an article doesn't mean I'm blanketly taking the article (or it's title) at face value. I don't think any part of my comment suggesting that I believed the research went further than supporting the "fluency is fluency" argument. I think this is a real "well duh" moment but Psychology research often gets that kind of response... except when it doesn't.

I generally find that saying "this science research is being misreported in this popular press article" is like pointing out that the article is organised into paragraphs. I think that science just doesn't fit the template that journalists use for "how to report news" as well as other subjects. At least the correct information is actually here (mostly), though with no critique and with some extra over-extrapolating parts... ("suggests" doesn't give you carte blanche).

I wished there was the personality information in there too because that's interesting too. Especially the positive correlation with Neuroticism since intelligence has a negative correlation with it, so that'd be an issue to look into if you wanted to relate sweatword fluency with intelligence later down the line.

SKBPinkie:
1ity 1ing 1in 1nuts.

Now.... where's my PhD?

Look closely. The average was 9, and you just have 1. You might think you have 4 but you just have the same one repeated with a bit of self censorship. Frig, Really? Ether you're trying to use the Goddess Frigga's name in vain, or it's self censorship of the F-Bomb you used 3 times.

How about putting yourself on a timer for 1 minute, and write down all the unique swear words, and then count them.

Interesting thing to note is that according to this study if someone used the F-Bomb as every word in a sentence they'd still be considered an idiot by this study. I'm actually shocked that 9 was the average, but not too shocked by animals. After all in French calling someone a "Dirty Cow" is one of the most offensive terms you can use.

MarsAtlas:
So instead of getting out babies to listen to Mozart they should be listening to George Carlin?

I'm on board with this.

I would also be fine with Bill Hicks, Sam Kinison or Billy Connolly as wonderful fucking alternatives.

OT: Now I feel obligated to watch a marathon of nothing but my favorite comedians. I am OK with this.

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