MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Richard Stephens Senior Lecturer in Psychology
BSc Psychology Programme Director
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: We had previously found that most people are able to tolerate having their hand in ice cold water for longer if they are repeating a swear word compared with repeating a neutral word. In these studies we have also reliably seen an increase in heart rate when swearing, indicating that activation of the fight or flight response is most likely to be what brings about the pain tolerance effects of swearing.
This latest study was designed to see if fight or flight effects of swearing would produce increase performance of physical power and strength tasks. We showed that swearing aloud can give people a boost in terms of physical performance. However, We expected that the effect would be brought about via the fight or flight response (i.e. elevated autonomic nervous system arousal), which is associated with increased adrenalin. But none of the biological measures that we took (e.g. heart rate) were consistent with that. There was no evidence of a fight or flight response. So perhaps the effect is more psychological, perhaps associated with pain relief from swearing, or else a general disinhibition brought about by swearing in which people just “go for it” a little harder.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: People already know to turn to the register of the swear words when they really need to succeed – look at cyclists powering up hills muttering oaths under their breath! In some ways we have verified verified objectively what is a well known way to get a boost. People can partake of swearing knowing that there is evidence that it can help them with physical performance.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: We are currently assessing the effects of swearing on a range of common exercises such as sit ups and push ups. we also intend to assess effects of swearing on physical performance that is less dependent on strength and power such as tasks requiring dexterity or co-ordination (e.g. dancing).
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: The research was unfunded research carried out by student volunteers at LIU Brooklyn and Keele University. I’d like to say a big thank you to the student volunteers – both investigators and participants!
Crowdfunding website address:- http://swearingmakesyoustronger.bigcartel.com/ People can buy hats and t shirts with the logo “Swearing Makes You Stronger” with the proceeds used to fund further studies in this area (and a charitable donation).
Citations: Psychology of Sport and Exercise
Volume 35, March 2018, Pages 111-117
Effect of swearing on strength and power performance☆
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