Watch CBS News

Is Cursing Bad Or Good For You?

LOS ANGELES ( —  Is cursing bad or good for you?  CBS2's Jennifer Kastner digs into the science of swearing.

Benjamin Bergen is the author of the book: "What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves."

"It turns out that there are amazing things you can find out about how the mind works, how the brain works, people's human sociality just by looking at profanity," he explained.

The professor of Cognitive Science at UC San Diego said cursing could be linked to higher intelligence.

"It turns out that on average, the ones who swear the most also have the biggest vocabulary overall," Bergen added.

Wesley Chan was a test subject in Bergen's lab as the professor dug deeper into the impact of foul language.

In an experiment, Chan was asked to write about his opinion on abortion as researchers purposefully attacked his point of view to get him riled up.

He was also instructed to swear and play a video game while his aggression was measured.

"There's this idea that swearing might be cathartic" and can relieve anger and aggression, Bergen suggested.

But according to the professor, cursing makes people no less aggressive.

Bergen also conducted a research with a driving simulator where he studied whether spewing profanity could alleviate road rage or fuel it.

"So far, we're not finding that people who swear drive any better than people who don't swear," he said. "It might not actually be advantageous to swear over not swearing while in the driver's seat."

The most common cuss word seems to be the F word, the professor said.

Who swears more often? Men? Or women?

"Men are much more frequent users of swears than women are. But I don't know whether that actually holds in private. I'm told by some of my female friends that that's absolutely not true in private," Bergen added.

Bergen believes society's stigma over the four-letter word will continue to soften overtime.

"We start to discover that they are just words. It's kind of like George Carlin put it: The words are innocent. It's the uses that you put them to that can be harmful or not," he said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.