Stephens, R, Dowber, H, Barrie, A, Almeida, S and Atkins, K (2022) Effect of swearing on strength: Disinhibition as a potential mediator. PsyArXiv.

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<p>Introduction: Swearing fulfils positive functions including benefitting pain relief and physical strength. Here we present three experiments assessing a possible psychological mechanism, increased state disinhibition, for the effect of swearing on physical strength. Method: Three repeated measures experiments were carried out with sample sizes N=56, N=63 and N=118. All three included the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) to measure risky behaviour. Experiments 1 and 3 included measures of physical performance assessing, respectively, grip and arm strength. Experiment 3, which was pre-registered, additionally assessed flow, self-confidence, anxiety, emotion including humour, and distraction including novelty.Results: Experiments 1 and 3 found that repeating a swear word benefitted physical strength and increased risky behaviour, but risky behaviour did not mediate the strength effect. Experiment 2 showed no effect of listening to an audio track of a repeated swear word. Experiment 3 found that repeating a swear word increased flow, self-confidence, positive emotion, humour and distraction. Humour mediated the effect of swearing on physical strength. Discussion: Consistent effects of swearing on physical strength indicate that this is a reliable effect. Swearing affected several constructs related to state disinhibition including increased self-confidence. Humour appeared to mediate the effect of swearing on physical strength, consistent with a hot cognitions explanation of swearing-induced state disinhibition. However, as this mediation effect was part of an exploratory analysis, further pre-registered experimental research including validated measures of humour is required.</p>

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final version of this article can be found published via Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Any information related to this can be found on PsyArXiv, or the publisher website at;
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Psychology
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2022 12:23
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2022 12:23

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