Swearing in Political Discourse: Why Vulgarity Works
An experimental study investigated the effect of politicians’ profanity and gender on their perceived and actual persuasiveness. showed that a candidate’s use of swear words increased the perception of language informality and improved the general impression about the source. The latter effect was particularly strong for male candidate, as female candidate was already evaluated positively, irrespective of her cursing. In addition, though the manipulation of the politician’s vulgarity did not directly affect participants’ self-reported likelihood of voting for him or her, an indirect effect through language informality and impression about the candidate emerged. On the contrary, profanity use reduced perceived persuasiveness of the message, suggesting that the influence of swearing could be automatic and unaware. Theoretical implications are discussed.