Is it possible that humans developed swearing as a pain-management technique? It’s very possible!
According to a study in the journal NeuroReport, which measured how long college students could keep their hands immersed in cold water, when swearing, the 67 student volunteers reported less pain and on average endured about 40 seconds longer.
“I suspect that swearing taps into a defensive reflex in which an animal that is suddenly injured or confined erupts in a furious struggle, accompanied by an angry vocalization, to startle and intimidate an attacker,” says Psychologist Steven Pinker of Harvard University.
Great news all around for those with despicable potty mouths. There’s nothing like bellowing out a great giant “fuck!” after getting bashed on the finger. I’m always open for other incendiary pain relievers, however.