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Psychology Faculty

Dr. Timothy Jay, Professor

Tim Jay

Dr. Jay began teaching at MCLA shortly after earning his doctorate in Cognitive Psychology at Kent State University 1976. Dr. Jay teaches Introduction to Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Human Communication and Perception, Environmental Psychology, and Language and Censorship. He is the recipient of several distinguished teaching awards.

A world-renowned expert in cursing, Dr. Jay maintains an active schedule of research, writing and speaking. He has published numerous books and chapters on cursing, and a textbook for Prentice Hall on The Psychology of Language. Dr. Jay works closely with undergraduates on empirical research projects, and he and his students have presented their work at numerous conferences including meetings of the Association for Psychological Science, Eastern Psychological Association, New England Psychological Association.

Dr. Jay is frequently sought for his expertise on psycholinguistics. He has served as a consultant to a number of school systems, and has been an expert witness in legal cases pertaining to obscenity and censorship. Furthermore, Dr. Jay has been interviewed or featured in dozens of radio shows, televisions programs, and documentary films.

View Dr. Jay's curriculum vitae


NPR (National Public Radio) All Things Considered. Children are lilke "little language vacuum cleaners" that pick up whatever they hear.  Listen here.

The Why Factor?
Why do we swear? Mike Williams traces the history of taboo language from Roman times to the present day and discovers why some words are so powerful and offensive. 10/11/2013
Listen here.

HuffPost Latest Conversations: Heck Yeah It's Good to Curse!, 7/27/2012

The Science of Swearing in the Association for Psychological Science's Observer, May/June 2012

Interview with Tim Jay by Marty Moss-Coane for WHYY, 1/27/2012:
Listen here

Tim Jay on The Today Show, 1/23/2012:
Watch Here

Interview with Tim Jay on The Colin McEnroe Show about profanity in the public schools. Listen to the show.

Interview with Tim Jay on The Best of Our Knowledge , WAMC Radio Interview #842: Children, the FCC, and taboo language.

Interview with Tim Jay on This American Life Episode 267 Ira talks with Dr Timothy Jay, author of Cursing in America and Why We Curse, and John Cody, legal aide to FCC Chairman Michael Powell. Read the fascinating landmark FCC decision that's changing the rules, and the ACLU's Petition for Reconsideration. (29 minutes)

Interview with Tim Jay on RadioWest 8/4/06: Why We Curse - The moment Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" let "F dash dash dash" fly in front of his father, he knew his life was over. "What would it be? The guillotine? Hanging? The chair? The rack? The Chinese water torture? Hmmph. Mere child's play compared to what surely awaited me." Words have power, and indeed, not all words are created equal. From our parents and teachers to the FCC, certain norms are expected. But why do we curse and why is it that sometimes, no other word will do? Doug Fabrizio talks to psychologist Timothy Jay and language expert Richard Lederer.

Online Article for
Swearing and the Soul
If Americans now see 'M-----f-----g' as the new 'darn', what does it reveal about our spiritual health?


CURSING IN AMERICA (1992) The first serious examination of profanity from a psychological and linguistic point of view. John Benjamins Pub Co (1-800-562-5666).

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR STUDENTS TALK DIRTY (1996)- a guide to help teachers and parents understand and deal with children's offensive language. Resource Publications Inc    ~ Free books available ~ Please email ~

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR KIDS TALK DIRTY (1998) - a guide for parents and caregivers to help them cope with offensive language at home. Resource Publications Inc (1-888-273-7782)   ~ Free books available ~ Please email ~

WHY WE CURSE (2000) - a neuro-psycho-social theory of speech. John Benjamins Pub Co (1-800-562-5666).

The Psychology of Language (2003) - Prentice Hall For junior/senior-level courses in Psycholinguistics and The Psychology of Language. A comprehensive survey of classic and cutting edge research, this text shows how people comprehend, produce, and acquire language - and represents how powerful language processes are, and the importance of language in everyday life. It looks at emotional aspects of language processing in social contexts, and extends beyond the usual emphasis on structural aspects of language to include pragmatic and functional forces -demonstrating not just "what language is but also what language does."


Jay, K. & Jay, T. (2014) Children's Cursing

Jay, T. (2009) Do Words Harm? 

Jay, T. (2009) The Utility and Ubiquity of Taboo Words 

Jay, T. & Janschewitz, K. (2008) The Pragmatics of Swearing

Jay, T., Caldwell-Harris, C. & King, K. (2008) Recalling taboo and nontaboo words

Jay, T. & Janschewitz, K. (2007). Filling the emotion gap in linguistic theory: Commentary on Potts' expressive dimension

Jay, T., King, K., & Duncan, T. (2006). Memory of punishment for cursing. Sex Roles.

Jay, T. (2005) American Women: Their Cursing Habits and Religiosity

Jay, T., (1981). Comprehending dirty-word descriptions.

Jay, T., (1980). Sex roles and dirty word usage: A review of the literature and a reply to Haas.Sex

Upcoming Speaking Events 


Lively and interactive 1, 2 or 4-hour workshops designed to help teachers and parents solve problems caused by children's cursing. College credits and professional development credits are available.

Fall 2014

PSYC 100-01 Introduction to Psychology
PSYC 100-02 Introduction to Psychology
PSYC 310-01 Cognitive Psychology
PSYC 399-01 Language and Censorship

Office Hours

M/W 2:00-3-:00pm

CSI 325B | 413.662.5466 | Email 

Free Books 

Email Dr. Jay 

Book 2

Book 1

 Book 3

Book 4


Book 5