No s**t, Sherlock: Study finds people who swear are more honest

  • 20/01/2017
If someone's swearing a lot, it might pay to listen (Getty)
If someone's swearing a lot, it might pay to listen (Getty)

This is the f**king news: people who frequently swear are more likely to be telling the truth, new research has found.

Psychologists at the University of Cambridge in the UK say while profanity and dishonesty are both "considered deviant" and "evidence of low moral standards", people who swear are probably good bastards.

"Swearing is often inappropriate, but it can also be evidence that someone is telling you their honest opinion," says study co-author and data analytics lecturer David Stillwell.

"Just as they aren't filtering their language to be more palatable, they're also not filtering their views."

The first part of the study had 276 participants list their favourite four-letter words and their reasons for using them. They then took part in a lie detector test to see if they were being honest, or just giving answers they thought were "socially acceptable".

"Those who wrote down a higher number of curse words were less likely to be lying," the study found.

The second half of the study analysed the language used by 75,000 Facebook users.

"Those who used more profanity were also more likely to use language patterns that have been shown in previous research to be related to honesty," they found.

Potty-mouthed people were more likely to write longer, more personal posts, using language associated with truth-telling.

Conversely, fibbers tended to write shorter updates because they "require more mental resources to obscure the lie and therefore end up using less cognitively demanding language".

The more dishonest the researchers rated a Facebook post, the less likely it was to contain profanity.

"In the case of Facebook, the dishonesty we refer to is not necessarily blunt deception aimed at exploiting or harming others but rather a mild distortion of the truth intended to construe a more socially desirable appearance."

So the next time someone complains about your bad language, consider telling them to f**k off.

The study was published in journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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