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Swearing can ease social hurt as well as physical pain

Swearing not only eases physical pain, it can help hurt feelings, a psychology lecturer has claimed.

Swearing not only eases physical pain, it can help ease hurt feelings, a psychology lecturer has claimed

Michael Philipp, director of the social cognition lab at Massey University in New Zealand, built on existing studies showing swearing aloud relieves the pain of banging a toe or catching a finger in a door.

His pain overlap theory test involved 70 students from the University of Queensland in Australia, who were asked to write about a socially inclusive or distressing social event to induce corresponding feelings before being split into two randomly assigned groups.

No quick fix

Both groups spent two minutes either swearing aloud or repeating a neutral word, before being tested for physical and social pain sensitivity.

Socially excluded non-swearers reported feeling more social pain and greater sensitivity to physical pain


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