The study found that “motherF………” was used 678 times more often in the mid-2000s than the early 1950s, occurrences of “s..t” multiplied 69 times, and “f..k” was 168 times more frequent.
Led by Jean Twenge, author and psychology professor at San Diego State University, the team analysed the titles making up the Google Books corpus of American English books published between 1950 and 2008, looking for uses of the words “s..t”, “”, “f..k”, “c..t”, “c……r”, “motherfr”, and other curse words”.
Overall, they found that writers were “significantly more likely to use swearwords in the years since 1950”, with books published in 2005-2008 28 times more likely to include swearwords than books published in the early 1950s. The paper that was publishefd“American culture increasingly values individual self-expression and weaker social taboos, and these trends are manifested in the increasing use of swearwords.”
Twenge and her fellow authors, graduate student Hannah Van Landingham and University of Georgia psychology professor W Keith Campbell, link the rise of profanities in US literature to the increasingly individualistic nature of the country’s culture, as well as the relaxation of societal taboos.