Effect of swearing on strength and power performance (study)

Dr Richard Stephens, of Keele University, UK, was a co-recipient of the 2010 Ig Nobel Peace Prize for confirming the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain. Since then, his work on swearing has continued, and he’s the lead author of a 2018 paper for the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise (Volume 35, March 2018, Pages 111-117) which examined the effect of swearing on strength and power performance. Experimental participants, who swore, performed better on an exercise bike and at a hand-grip strength test. It’s as yet unclear exactly why.

“Data demonstrate increased strength and power performance for swearing v. not swearing but the absence of cardiovascular or autonomic nervous system effects makes it unclear whether these results are due to an alteration of sympathovagal balance or an unknown mechanism.”

See: Effect of swearing on strength and power performance


[1] “WARNING: This paper contains language that some readers may find offensive.”

[2] Scope for further research : as yet, the experiments haven’t investigated whether some swearwords might work better than others.