Casual Swearing by Personality Type

Some people find swearing so repugnant that they refuse to do it at all – or perhaps only in extreme circumstances, such as immediately after slamming their hand in a car door – but others have a different opinion. Some people find swear words to be no more exceptional than any other, and they may use them liberally to pepper even the most everyday speech.

Either way, the rejection or embrace of casual swearing is seen by many people as a reflection of one’s underlying character. But it could also be linked to particular personality traits[1].

To examine this, we asked our readers whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement “You often use swear words in casual conversations.” There wasn’t much of a difference between some personality trait pairings, such as Extraverts and Introverts (58% and 54% agreeing, respectively). But there was a clear disparity between others, such as Prospecting and Judging (63% vs. 49%) and Intuitive and Observant (61% vs. 49%).

Which personality types are the most comfortable with casual profanity? We take a look at the question below:

Roles


Analysts (68% agreeing)

A majority of Analysts said that they often swear in casual circumstances. Stubbornly independent, and even a little abrasive, Analysts tend to care little for how others view their actions. What matters is results. It could be that this disdain extends to their use of profane language, and these personality types might chafe at the efforts of others to censor them in their use of it.

Turbulent Commanders (ENTJ-T) and Debaters (ENTP-T) agreed most with the statement (74%), followed closely by Turbulent Logicians (INTP-T) (73%). These are all forceful, ambitious types, in their own ways, and they’ll “be damned” if some social taboo is going to stop them from saying what needs to be said.

Diplomats and Explorers (58% and 57%)

Diplomats and Explorers had an almost identical response to the statement. One might think that Diplomats would fear offending others by using off-color language. However, some Diplomats may feel that the casual use of profanity may actually create stronger bonds with people, who may view the speaker as less guarded and more genuine[2].

Explorers, for their part, may simply have a more extemporaneous take on the use of swear words, dropping a few here and there as the situation calls for it and as the spirit moves them. Turbulent Entrepreneurs (ESTP-T) were right alongside the top Analysts in agreeing with the statement (73%). These personalities share many qualities with Analysts, but with a much more frank attitude that has them using whatever tool gets the point across fastest.

Sentinels (44%)

Less than half of Sentinels agreed with the statement “You often use swear words in casual conversations.” Because profanity is often a departure (if not an outright breach) of social norms and propriety, it would follow that Sentinels, whose priority is typically to adhere to such norms as closely as possible, might take issue with casual swearing.

Assertive Defenders (ISFJ-A) were the agreed least often with the statement (32%). These gentle but determined individuals believe strongly in protecting those they love from evil, including social taboos. Though, being a part of the only Role agreeing in the minority, they may have to reconsider just what the social norms are!

Strategies


Social Engagement (65% agreeing)

Most of those with the Social Engagement Strategy agreed that casual swearing was a common feature of their speech. Although cursing might not always be in their best interests, Social Engagers may have a more difficult time holding their tongues than most. In other words, the stress of proving themselves in social situations may occasionally cause these personality types to let loose with a choice phrase or two, even if they find themselves apologizing for their rashness later.

Constant Improvement (58%)

Well over half of respondents with the Constant Improvement Strategy agreed that they often used swear words when speaking. While their perfectionism and need to not “say the wrong thing” may silence them at times, Constant Improvers (much like Social Engagers) may have a propensity for letting a few curse words slip as a sort of release valve for the pressures they feel in conversation[2].

People Mastery (51%)

The People Mastery Strategy was evenly split on the question of profanity. This division could be interpreted as a function of their ease in social situations – they have nothing to prove. It is unlikely that these personality types will feel any need to use swear words for impact, instead relying on their aura of confidence to drive things home. If People Masters curse at all, it is because they are comfortable, and feel no need to hold back with a particular person or group.

Confident Individualism (46%)

Of the four strategies, Confident Individualism was least likely to agree that they tend to swear readily in casual conversations. Like People Masters, Confident Individualists may not be particularly averse to swearing, but neither are they drawn to it. While they might prefer at times to refrain from cursing, they do not feel any social pressure to censor their language. If nothing else, with smaller social circles to draw on, they simply have fewer opportunities to develop the habit.

Conclusions

If we look at swearing as the breaking down of a linguistic filter – as appears to be the case when we see someone who ordinarily never curses making a sudden, shocking exception – then the absence of such a filter in casual talk may speak volumes.

In some cases, casual swearing may be an indication of a person’s lack of guile; they may prefer to speak forthrightly, even crudely, to get their point across in the most direct manner possible. It may be that maintaining such a conversational filter is one stress too many for those who always feel a certain level of unease in social situations, even at their most casual. Either way, the use of swear words may imply a great deal about who we are, even setting aside considerations of societal taboos or the propriety of cursing.

Do you use swear words in casual conversations? How do you determine when swearing is appropriate (if you do)? Let us know (without the swears, please!) in the comments below!

You can see the full set of data, including correlation coefficients, in the Academy. Please also consider participating in our Member Surveys!

2 years ago
I'm an INFJ-T, and I don't really care when others swear but I try not to but if I'm angry or in pain, I do let a few swears go. But it does frustrate me when people simply swear so they seem 'cool' instead of just talking without the pressurised swear words.
1 year ago
Another INFJ-T here, and I totally agree. A few of my close friends will use swear words just for the sake of it, which really bugs me. If they are trying to make a strong argument, or if they are hurt, then I understand. But there is no point in swearing to fit what society may see as cool.
2 years ago
Being an INTJ-A, I usually attribute swearing to a low vocabulary on the part of the person that swears. Perhaps that's harsh, but there are better words out there to use.
10 months ago
I am an INTJ-A as well, but unlike many of my fellow Analysts, I have never sworn in my entire life. My religion discourages it, and I agree that there are better ways to express those same feelings. I am always uncomfortable when people swear around me.
2 years ago
I'm an INFP-T and I personally don't have a problem with swearing. I don't mind when others use swear words around me alone (and I tend to swear quite a bit myself), it's normally when there are others involved that I become more conscious about others' responses to swearing. I've had family members who abhor using or hearing swear words around them, so I tend to respond accordingly then. Otherwise, swearing, to me, is just a normal occurrence I can handle.
2 years ago
INFP-T I swear quite a lot, but only when I feel like its not offending someone! Or in situations of objectivity like science and facts. As those are easier to explain.
Anonymous
3 years ago
I'm an ENFJ (T) and I really don't like it when people swear (and I don't do it myself)... I dunno it really bugs me, like I mean why swear when there is a more polite reasonable way to respond that won't hurt anyone's feeling... (well, but I guess its ok to swear when among a group of VERY close friends :\ ) I'd be intretesed to hear what others feel/say about swearing so please reply! :)
3 years ago
I'm ISTJ-T and I casual swearing is anathema to me. Swearing will never lose its shock value to me, even though it does to everyone else. Does anyone else feel like me (though maybe not to that extent) or disagree? Anonymous, I don't know why I strongly disagree against swearing too, even though one of my friends swears a lot, and I constantly complain. I don't care about politeness that much, just that it's immoral and that there's a better way to make your point.
Iqra
2 years ago
I really agree with your last point "there's a better way to make your point'. That's one thing that I always think when people swear. Happy to hear I'm not the only one :) Politeness does play a role in why I don't like swearing, but your last point there put a smile on my face, so true. Thanks for replying. Oh, and my name is Iqra :)
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