Men as talkative as women, researchers say

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-07 06:51

WASHINGTON: A team of researchers found there is not much difference between the sexes when it comes to talking, when you actually count the words.

The researchers placed microphones on 396 college students in the United States and Mexico for periods ranging from two to 10 days, sampled their conversations and calculated how many words they used in the course of a day.

The score: Women, 16,215; Men, 15,669.

The difference: 546 words: "Not statistically significant," say the researchers in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

"What's a 500-word difference, compared with the 45,000-word difference between the most and the least talkative persons" in the study, Matthias R. Mehl, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Arizona, who led the research, said. He said the least talkative person in the study - a male - used just over 500 words a day, while another male topped that by more than 45,000.

Co-author James W. Pennebaker, chairman of the psychology department at the University of Texas, said the researchers collected the recordings as part of a larger project to understand how people are affected when they talk about emotional experiences.

They were surprised when a magazine article asserted that women use an average of 20,000 words per day compared with 7,000 for men. If there had been that big a difference, he thought, they should have noticed it.

"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 periods of time," Pennebaker said.

Indeed, Mehl said, one study they found, done in workplaces, showed men talking more.

Still, the idea that women use nearly three times as many words a day as men has taken on the status of an "urban legend", he said.


(China Daily 07/07/2007 page1)

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