Do Women Really Talk More Than Men?
    By News Staff | July 5th 2007 02:13 PM | 4 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    Refuting the popular stereotype that females talk more than men, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have found women and men both use an average of 16,000 words each day.

    The psychology researchers have published their findings in “Are Women Really More Talkative Than Men"” in the July issue of Science.

    For more than a decade, researchers have claimed that women use far more words each day than men. One set of numbers that is commonly tossed around is that women use 20,000 words per day compared to only 7,000 for men.

    “These findings have been reported widely by national media and have entered the cultural mainstream,” James W. Pennebaker, chair of the Psychology Department and co-author of the study, said. “Although many people believe the stereotypes of females as talkative and males as reticent, there is no large-scale study that systematically has recorded the natural conversations of large groups of people for extended period of time.”

    For eight years, the psychology researchers have developed a method for recording natural language using the electronically activated recorder (EAR). The unobtrusive digital voice recorder tracks people’s interactions, including their conversations.

    The researchers analyzed the transcripts of almost 400 university students in the United States and Mexico whose daily interactions were recorded between 1998 and 2004. The research participants could not control the EAR, which automatically records for 30 seconds every 12.5 minutes, and did not know when the device was on.

    Matthias Mehl, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, is the lead author of the study. In 2004, he earned a doctor’s degree in psychology from The University of Texas at Austin where he conducted the research with Pennebaker, Richard Slatcher and Nairán Ramírez-Esparza.

    Source: University of Texas at Austin


    Which women and men? What kind of lifestyles do they live? Is it possible that some of the difference percieved in the past may have to do with the kind of work men used to have, but mostly don't any more? The last time I worked in a factory, many people didn't speak all day except a few words, or at lunch. When I work in an office and carry a cell phone, I'm in a different universe entirely.

    The hidden presumption in this article, e.g. all men's lives and all women's lives are interchangeable, and most men and women live lives much like the "average" man and woman, is a whole big enough to chuck medium-sized countries through.

    No science could ever get done if you had to re-calibrate the study for each individual.

    Well, maybe math could.

    I am sticking to my guns that women talk more than men. I have had whole converations with men that consisted of no more than "What's the score?" and yet we understood each other perfectly.

    The part that seems flawed to me, is that the device only recorded 30 seconds of every 12 minutes of speaking. Another article I read which cited the same study said that this equals about 4% of daily speech. I am no statistician, but basing an average on only 4% of daily speech doesn't seem like it could be a very accurate average. This is the only study that I have found so far showing such results. I also don't think that strictly university students is a good sample of all men and all women. Just doesn't seem accurate at all to me.