Gala Dinner

(Some of) The Psychology of Swearing

Notes in advance of after dinner talk at ATP Keele, 8th July 2017.


Swearing is a fascinating aspect of language. For instance, evidence from Tourette’s sufferers and aphasics suggests swearing may not rely on the usual language areas in the left cortex. In addition, while people tend to think of the use of four letter words as a modern phenomenon, the reality is that the earliest recorded uses of these words date back 1,000 years (the F word is one of the most recent, at c1500). Dr Richard Stephens, a psychobiologist based at Keele University, will be talking about the psychology of swearing and specifically his research showing that swearing helps many people to be more tolerant of pain.



Dr Richard Stephens is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Keele University. Richard researches the psychobiology of swearing including why people swear in response to pain. He is Chair of the British Psychological Society Psychobiology Section, winner of the 2014 Wellcome Trust/ Guardian Science Writing Prize and contributes regularly to TV, radio, print and online media. Richard’s first book Black Sheep The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad was published to critical acclaim last summer and was recently announced as the winner of the British Psychological Society Book of the Year Award (Popular Science) 2016.