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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Neither gender more chatty, study of per-day words shows”

    Turns out women don’t talk much more than men.

    At least, that’s what a recent study conducted partially by UA researcher Matthias R. Mehl, an assistant professor of psychology, has determined.

    “”Whenever I hear people repeating a stereotype or generalization – or, for that matter, denying that one is true – my reaction is always to think, ‘Well, let’s test that empirically,’ “” said Simine Vazire, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington in St. Louis who worked with Mehl on the research.

    Over the course of six years, the team recorded the conversations of 396 people for several days using a machine known as the Electronically Activated Recorder.

    The EAR sampled ambient sounds during the experiment, with the exception of when the participants were asleep.

    Prior to experimentation, the team of researchers sampled each of the participant’s voices so they could distinguish between their voices and the voice of others.

    College students of both Mexican and American backgrounds were sampled. The sample population was split equally between men and women, according to a press release.

    After the data was collected, research revealed that both genders used an average of approximately 16,000 words per day. Women, however, used slightly more.

    The average for women was 16,215, while for men it was 15,669, Mehl wrote in an e-mail.

    “”For biological or sociocultural reasons, women and men may have a preference for different conversational topics, but they do not differ in their amount of overall talking,”” Mehl wrote in an e-mail.

    The standard deviation from the mean is something Mehl noted upon reviewing the results, some of which showed a large variance from the average.

    “”Perhaps there is a difference in certain contexts, or among certain subgroups, but if there was a ubiquitous, biologically-based difference, we would have seen it in our samples,”” Vazire said.

    Still, the 500-word difference between men and women paled in comparison to the 46,000-word difference between the people who talked the most and the least, Mehl said in a press release.

    One person used around 47,000 words, whereas another used around 700.

    “”I think this finding is one more instance of alerting people to be cautious when thinking of gender differences,”” Mehl wrote.

    “”I am not saying that there are no psychological differences between men and women – there sure are. Yet, I urge to resist the temptation of using the ‘gender magnifying glass’ to make them bigger than they are.””

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