Stephens, R and Robertson, O (2020) Swearing as a Response to Pain: Assessing Hypoalgesic Effects of Novel “Swear” Words. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. ISSN 1664-1078

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Previous research showing that swearing alleviates pain is extended by addressing emotion arousal and distraction as possible mechanisms. We assessed the effects of a conventional swear word (“fuck”) and two new “swear” words identified as both emotion-arousing and distracting: “fouch” and “twizpipe.” A mixed sex group of participants (N = 92) completed a repeated measures experimental design augmented by mediation analysis. The independent variable was repeating one of four different words: “fuck” vs. “fouch” vs. “twizpipe” vs. a neutral word. The dependent variables were emotion rating, humor rating, distraction rating, cold pressor pain threshold, cold pressor pain tolerance, pain perception score, and change from resting heart rate. Mediation analyses were conducted for emotion, humor, and distraction ratings. For conventional swearing (“fuck”), confirmatory analyses found a 32% increase in pain threshold and a 33% increase in pain tolerance, accompanied by increased ratings for emotion, humor, and distraction, relative to the neutral word condition. The new “swear” words, “fouch” and “twizpipe,” were rated as more emotional and humorous than the neutral word but did not affect pain threshold or tolerance. Changes in heart rate and pain perception were absent. Our data replicate previous findings that repeating a swear word at a steady pace and volume benefits pain tolerance, extending this finding to pain threshold. Mediation analyses did not identify a pathway via which such effects manifest. Distraction appears to be of little importance but emotion arousal is worthy of future study.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright © 2020 Stephens and Robertson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Uncontrolled Keywords: swearing, cold-pressor, pain threshold, pain tolerance, emotion, humor, distraction
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BC Logic
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF176 Psychological tests and testing
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 12 May 2020 07:53
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2020 08:14

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