Giving the middle finger often frees us from feelings of frustration, but researchers have found that the one-fingered salute can also reduce pain.
The study revealed that ‘flipping the bird’ and ‘flicking the Vs’ can help to slash discomfort by around a tenth.
Swearing verbally was also found to have a similar effect.
Participants in the Kalamazoo University study placed one hand into icy water and repeatedly stuck up their middle finger, or made a non-offensive gesture with the other.
In other tests they shouted “f**k” or said “flat” after submerging their hand in the frosty water.
Those giving the one-fingered salute withstood pain for 125 seconds on average, 12 more than those with the non-offensive gesture.
They also lasted longer than the swearers who outdid the “flat” group.
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According to the researchers, giving the middle finger may help to reduce pain, as we unconsciously think f**k while doing it.
They added that it may also be a distraction to the discomfort.
Lead author of the study, Professor Autumn Hostetter, said: “This is the first research to show a taboo gesture has a pain-lowering effect similar to that produced by a taboo word.”
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