Does Emotional Arousal Influence Swearing Fluency?

Publication Type:

Journal Article

Source:

Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, p.1–13 (2017)

URL:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10936-016-9473-8

DOI:

10.1007/s10936-016-9473-8

Abstract:

This study assessed the effect of experimentally manipulated emotional arousal on swearing fluency. We hypothesised that swear word generation would be increased with raised emotional arousal. The emotional arousal of 60 participants was manipulated by having them play a first-person shooter video game or, as a control, a golf video game, in a randomised order. A behavioural measure of swearing fluency based on the Controlled Oral Word Association Test was employed. Successful experimental manipulation was indicated by raised State Hostility Questionnaire scores after playing the shooter game. Swearing fluency was significantly greater after playing the shooter game compared with the golf game. Validity of the swearing fluency task was demonstrated via positive correlations with self-reported swearing fluency and daily swearing frequency. In certain instances swearing may represent a form of emotional expression. This finding will inform debates around the acceptability of using taboo language.