A well-placed F-bomb can speak volumes about someone's personality—they may be more intelligent, more open to friendship, more tolerant of pain, or simply less socially aware. But a three-part study from Maastricht University in the Netherlands has linked yet another trait to the use of profanity: authenticity.
"The consistent findings across the studies suggest that the positive relation between profanity and honesty is robust, and that the relationship found at the individual level indeed translates to the society level," reads the final paper, set to publish in Psychological and Personality Science later this year. To reach this conclusion, the researchers analyzed the relationship between swearing and straightforwardness in both individuals and society.
The Maastricht team began by surveying 276 adult-aged participants about their swearing habits. Next, researchers took to Facebook, analyzing the use of curse words in the profiles of over 73,000 users. Finally, they compared the use of profanity to integrity indexes, or laws erected to fight government corruption and encourage honesty in all 50 American states.
Time and time again, the team found a positive relationship between cursing and honesty. The researchers surmise that the people who use profanity to express themselves are also upfront about their feelings and are less likely to lie. In other words, they may even have more integrity than their more soft-spoken counterparts.
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