UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


LangCog Seminar - Dr Richard Stephens

08 May 2024, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Dr Richard Stephens

Swearing: A cheap, readily available, calorie-neutral, drug-free means of self-help

Event Information

Open to



Rebecca Norman & Richard Talbot - Language and Cognition


This is an online seminar and will take place using Zoom - please see the details below.
Zoom Link: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/98344476371?pwd=c2FxYUZyaGJUbVNUT3Q3RUpVdWFlQT09
Meeting ID: 983 4447 6371
Passcode: 327481

Swearing is a fascinating aspect of language. Evidence from Tourette's sufferers and aphasics suggests swearing may not rely on the usual language areas in the brain. 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 psychologist based at Keele University, will be talking about why we swear and specifically his research showing that swearing helps people overcome pain and boosts physical performance.

This seminar will take place online via zoom.




About the Speaker

Dr Richard Stephens

Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Keele University

Dr Richard Stephens has been involved with psychology for more than three decades, and has developed an international reputation for research on alcohol and emotional language. He is very well known for his research on the benefits of swearing for pain tolerance and performing physical tasls, which has been featured numerous times in the media, including a segment on the BBC's Have I Got News For You.

He has delivered numerous talks on his research to both academic and nonacademic audiences, including a TEDx talk, and his book Black Sheep: The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad won the 2017 British Psychological Society Book of the Year Award in the Popular Science category.

Richard has served on the committee of the British Psychological Society Psychologist and Digest Editorial Advisory Committee since January 2017, and is a former Chair of the British Psychological Society Psychobiology Section (2013-2017) where he continues to serve as a committee member.

Follow him on twitter for updates: @psychologyrich





More about Dr Richard Stephens