Richard Stephens, who was awarded the 2010 Ig Nobel peace prize for demonstrating that swearing helps relieve pain, has written a book about the good sides of bad behavior.
The book, to which I delightedly contributed a cover blurb (‘Richard Stephens demonstrates that the bad (“NEVER DO THAT!”) things in life do have their good, practical side’), is called Black Sheep: The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad. The publisher produced this wicked little video about it:
Caroline Morley wrote an admiring book review, in New Scientist magazine, that begins:
WHETHER it’s skiving, sex, speeding or drinking alcohol, everything fun seems to have a warning attached. So why does behaving badly feel so good?
Richard Stephens, a senior lecturer in psychology at Keele University, UK, may not sound like the obvious person to tackle the science of deviance until you discover that he has won an Ig Nobel prize for his work on swearing. And since swearing is a particular vice of mine, I was keen to read about any advantages fruity language might confer.
In Black Sheep, Stephens ranges far and wide, surveying the psychological and physiological research into our character flaws. He writes with the glee of someone at a theme park, which is fitting since he tells us that a ride on a roller coaster is beneficial for asthma….