If you stub your toe and your first instinct is to swear, you're not alone. Hell, there may even be some scientific evidence to suggest that it will actually lessen the pain you're feeling.
But if you're a woman, it'll also make you look preeeetty unattractive. So you get a two-for-one!:
"We find that swearing by yourself is pretty innocuous and may-or may not-help for coping with health issues," says Matthias Mehl, associate professor of psychology at the University of Arizona and the corresponding author of the study.
"However, swearing in the presence of others can, in certain populations, run the risk of putting off your social network, which may react with a withdrawal of emotional support, which can then in turn put you on a path toward developing depression."
The study, which was published in the journal Health Psychology, interviewed a "small sample of women" to find out "how small and subtle things in daily lives can be psychologically important and consequential."
The study's hypothesis was that an increase in swearing could result in the people you care about severing all ties with you because they are shocked you would say something like that (and because they live inside of a cave and have never been exposed to television, music, or advertisements before), resulting in your falling into a deep depression because no one loves you anymore.
Because you said a dirty word. As an adult. Around other adults:
"We also hypothesized that this sequence should be limited to swearing in a social context and should not happen when patients swear by themselves. And, indeed we found that swearing in the presence of others but not swearing when alone was related to decreases in emotional support, which in turn where related to increases in depressive symptoms over the course of the study period," Mehl says.
"Statistically, the decreases in emotional support mediated the effects of swearing in the presence of others on depressive symptoms suggesting that the hypothesized causal sequence might indeed exist, even though, of course, correlational patterns can never establish causality."
So basically, if you swear when you're by yourself, you'll probably continue to love yourself afterward (which is odd, I know), but if you're around other people, watch out! There's nothing your loved ones will hate more than the fact that you're a woman who swears and yes, it'll pretty much erase any good qualities they foolishly believed you once possessed.
Since this study obviously raises countless questions, those involved (thankfully) realized that this deserves further examination:
"Our sample consisted exclusively of women in midlife for whom swearing might have violated gender and age norms. Thus, it is unclear to what degree acting in nonstereotypic ways, or swearing, was ultimately responsible for the dwindling of emotional support. In other words, it is possible that the negative interpersonal consequences of swearing may not extend to other populations," Mehl says.
Other populations such as men, who face fewer social prohibitions for swearing, might be a case in point. There might even be positive consequences in younger people for whom swearing with a peer group may serve as a bonding function and thereby facilitate emotional support.
"The answer is that we currently do not know-but we will try to find out."
I look very forward to the possible outcomes of the follow-up study. Some of which might be:
-If you're a teen named Trisha who uses the coolest swears around, you'll be super popular!
-If you're a guy named 'Any name at all', your popularity won't rise or fall, because why would it? It's just a fucking swear word. Seriously, who gives a shit?
When women #@!!%, it's a social turnoff [Futurity]