Black Sheep: The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad

Posted on 18 June 2015

Fresh from his success winning the 2014 Wellcome Trust/ Guardian Science Writing Prize, Keele University’s Dr Richard Stephens will see his hotly anticipated popular science book Black Sheep: The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad published 18th June by John Murray Learning.

Richard is well known for his international headline-making research into the benefits of swearing as a response to pain. Now Richard considers some other bad habits with redeeming features.

More pub conversation than science book, it casts a slant on a range of human experiences from life to death, sex to romance, from speed thrills to halting boredom and from drinking alcohol (in moderation) to headily excessive bad language.

Richard talks engagingly about research showing how swearing can make you more persuasive (think David Cameron’s “bloody lively” outburst in the run up to the election), doing a parachute jump can be the perfect way to de-stress, wasting time doing nothing can help you solve problems, alcohol can make men more sociable and having sex can make you more tolerant of pain.

There are numerous hidden benefits of being bad that you really won’t have seen coming.

Richard was interviewed live on BBC1 TV’s The One Show on Monday 1st June (you can see the interview on iPlayer here,, 17.10 mins in). Richard has been invited for a further live BBC1 TV interview this time on the Breakfast programme on Friday 17th June.

The book is available worldwide in bookstores and online in paperback and e-book formats.