We may swear simply because it makes us feel better. In a 2011 study led by Keele University’s Richard Stephens, researchers measured how long participants would keep a hand in a container of freezing water. On one trial, participants repeated a swear word of their choice. On another trial, the same participants immersed their hand without cursing. (Sometimes the no-cursing trial occurred first, sometimes second). When cursing, participants’ heart rates increased, as did the amount of time they were capable of withstanding the freezing water—from about a minute to a minute and a half. But the swearing-as-painkiller method, though intriguing, becomes less effective with repeated use: this “swearing benefit” is largest for those who swear least.