McCann London has teamed up with Nurofen and a panel of experts to carry out a scientific experiment investigating the effect of swearing on short term pain tolerance.
Nurofen gathered together a panel of experts to develop two novel words for the experiment. The group, containing scientists, lexicographers and lay members of the public who have suffered from pain, met to carefully consider and create the new words.
Volunteers were invited to test the new words, along with a traditional swear word and a control word (eg, word to describe a table), while their hands were submerged in an ice water bath. The ice water bath provided a non-harmful way to test their pain threshold (time at which pain is reported when the hand is held in ice water) and pain tolerance (time at which the hand is removed from the ice water).
The new words did not alleviate pain in the same way traditional swearing did even though participants rated them as emotion evoking and humorous – showing traditional swear words are a better option for increasing pain tolerance.
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