Just Another Guy with Opinions

The Gift of Gab up for Grabs

Posted by shadmia on July 8, 2007


Who said that women talk more than men? It has been a widely held belief that when it comes to talking, women take the cake. Think again! this turns out to be another our folklores and urban legends, that could not withstand the scrutiny of modern scientific inquiry.

In a study published in the magazine Science, it was discovered that men and women talk about roughly the same numbers of words daily. Women – 16,215, Men – 15,669, which speaking statistically is a dead heat. This contradicts the myth that women speak 20,000 words a day while men only 7,000. The bestselling book, The Female Brain was criticized for using this statistic, which author, Louann Brizendine, said was taken from another book and has since removed the figures from subsequent printings.

James Pennebaker, chair of the University of Texas at Austin’s psychology department, says he was skeptical of the lopsided stats when he saw them quoted in an interview with Brizendine in The New York Times Magazine. “I read that and I knew it couldn’t be true simply because we’ve run too many studies,” he says, “it just didn’t make sense.”

Being skeptical about people “self-reporting of their experiences.” He devised “a measure that would capture people’s real life.”

His device, called EAR (for electronically activated recorder) is a digital recorder that subjects can store in a sheath similar to a case for glasses in their purses or pockets. The EAR samples 30 seconds of ambient noise (including conversations) every 12.5 minutes; carriers cannot tamper with recordings.

The study was conducted by university students at Texas, Arizona and Mexico. Aside from determining that there was no real difference between women and men overall, some other interesting observations emerged: Men showed a wider gap in spoken words and won the title for the most verbose (47,000 words a day) and the least talkative (500 words a day). Men talk about technology, sports and money. They use more numbers. Women talk about fashion, but also about relationships.

On a whim, and totally unscientific, I asked a couple I know, who talks more? They both agreed that the woman talked more. But like I said this was completely unscientific, just the personal observation of an obviously biased subject!



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