If you swear often, you must be an honest person -- at least that’s what a three-part study suggests.
In the paper Frankly, We Do Give a Damn: The Relationship Between Profanity and Honesty, titled after Rhett Butler’s famous line in the movie Gone With The Wind, researchers say those who curse often have more integrity.
Profanity in the study was described as obscene language including taboo and curse words, which are in considered inappropriate in regular settings and sometimes unacceptable. This includes sexual references, blasphemy, objects that provoke disgust, ethnic-racial-gender slurs, vulgar terms and offensive slang.
Dishonesty was regarded as “the conscious attempt by an individual to convince others of a false reality,” most commonly “white lies” or “social lies” that people tell themselves or others in order to appear more desirable or positive.
“In three studies, at both the individual and society level, we found that a higher rate of profanity use was associated with more honesty,” researchers concluded.
In one part of the study, which involved 276 participants, researchers analyzed the individuals’ most commonly used and favorite profanity words, self-reported use of daily profanity, reasons for swearing and a person’s level of honesty. That section of the study found those with higher use of profanity were more honest on a lie scale.
The second study, which analyzed more than70,000 Facebook interactions, found profanity and honesty were “significantly and positively correlated,” meaning those who curse more tend to be more honest in their status updates.
For the final part of the study, researchers looked at profanity use in U.S. states. Areas with a higher profanity rate had better integrity scores, researchers found. For example, residents in New Jersey and Connecticut cursed frequently, but they also had the highest integrity scores.
The study is scheduled to be published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.