We humans are judgmental as fuck. You’re probably judging me right now. Did she really just say fuck? What sort of fucking journalist is this? Yes, I did fucking say that. And, according to a new statistical study, using swear words like “fuck” doesn’t say much about what sort of person you are — it’s just a sign that you are, in fact, just a person.
The article, released Tuesday in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science, researchers report that common stereotypes about people who curse were mostly untrue. In the study, a team of international researchers studied stereotypes based on word choices, particularly the words used by people on Twitter. Study participants were asked to categorize the authors of tweets by gender, age, education level, and political orientation after reading several tweets. The researchers then used a form of artificial intelligence called “natural language processing” to determine whether the participant’s assumptions actually matched the authors of the tweets.
What they found was to be expected: Sometimes people’s assumptions were wrong, and sometimes they were right. One of the assumptions they got wrong were the ones they made about people who use curse words.
“These inaccurate stereotypes tended to be exaggerated rather than backwards,” lead author Jordan Carpenter of Duke University said in a statement, “for instance, people had a decent idea that people who didn’t go to college are more likely to swear than people with PhDs, but they thought PhDs never swear, which is untrue.”
This realization adds to a growing body of evidence that says cursing isn’t as bad as your parents tricked you into thinking. Cursing actually comes with some benefits: As one swear word scholar argued in August, sprinkling shits into conversation can help you build intimate bonds faster.
Additionally, a 2016 paper published in Language Sciences argues that frequent swearing may actually be a sign of greater eloquence and intelligence. This disproves an older hypothesis called the “poverty-of-vocabulary,” which says you only curse when you don’t know what to say. What this paper says is that people who don’t know what to say utter a “um” or an “uhhhh,” but those with a snappy wit and an expansive vocabulary come out with a god damn!.
Nevertheless, polls about public opinion on cursers still demonstrate that people still classify them as being of a lower socio-intelligent status. Keeping with that opinion after considering the research out there, however, is just fucking wrong.
Photos via Flickr/lookcatalog