Press Release

Feel the FU*%@ING Power!

New research published in the Journal of Psychology of Sports and Exercise has found that swearing aloud can increase physical performance, strength, and power.

Swearing was shown to produce a 4.6% increase in initial power during a 30-second “Give it all you’ve got!” stationary bicycle test called the Wingate test, as well as an 8.2% increase in a separate test of maximum hand grip strength.

Dr. Richard Stephens of Keele University, UK, and Dr. David K Spierer of Long Island University Brooklyn, USA, asked study participants to suggest a swear word they might use in response to banging their head accidentally, and for the non-swearing trials, a word to describe a table. Based on Stephens’ previous research showing beneficial effects of swearing in the context of physical pain, they expected to see nervous system arousal in the form of elevated heart rate and blood pressure correlate with the improvement in physical performance. However, this was not the case.

Dr Stephens said “Swearing appears to be able to bring about improvements in physical performance that may not be solely dependent on a stress response arising out of the shock value of the swearing. We know that swearing appears to be handled in brain regions not usually associated with language processing. It is possible that activation of these areas by swearing could produce performance improvements across many different domains.”

Dr. Spierer said, “Cursing may allow people to shut down their inhibitions and somewhat veil the effort and the pain of this really difficult task.” In this way, Spierer says, “using swear words might be helpful in any circumstance where muscle strength and a sudden burst of force or speed is required.”

Drs. Stephens and Spierer have already begun their second study examining the effect of swearing on more common activities that are found in most exercise programs. Please visit their website at to purchase t-shirts and hats, the proceeds of which will go toward furthering research in swearing and performance as well as breast cancer awareness.

For further information please contact:

UK and Europe:
Dr Richard Stephens, Keele University
Phone: +44 7982 536116
Twitter: @psychologyrich

United States and Canada:
Dr David K Spierer,
Long Island University Brooklyn
Phone: 917-992-3923
Twitter: @wellroundtable

Full Reference:
Stephens R, Spierer DK, Katehis E. (2018). Effect of swearing on strength and power performance. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 35, 111-117.