“Study: Women don’t talk more than guys” (Plus Pithy Update On NYT Lies!)

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From Yahoo News:

Another stereotype : chatty gals and taciturn guys : bites the dust. Turns out, when you actually count the words, there isn’t much difference between the sexes when it comes to talking.

A team led by Matthias R. Mehl, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, came up with the finding, which is published in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

The researchers placed microphones on 396 college students 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.

“What’s a 500-word difference, compared with the 45,000-word difference between the most and the least talkative persons” in the study, said Mehl.

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.

They found that the 20,000-7,000 figures have been used in popular books and magazines for years. But they couldn’t find any research supporting them.

“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 natur al 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. …

Via Erin Buzuvis. On the same topic, see also.

UPDATE: Incredibly deceptive NYT Louann Brizendine apologia here, which first refers to Brizendine’s book The Female Brain as a “populist” book (which apparently means in NYT world that lying about how much women talk in relation to men is acceptable if it is “popular”), states:

But fact slyly not mentioned in Science study: after first printing of”Female Brain,”author, Louann Brizendine, began worrying that 20,000 vs. 7,000 figure was just invented by marriage counselors and removed it.

That’s not the way anyone paying attention to the NYT remembers it. For a very different account of the controversy, check out this post and this post and also these links, copied from here:

Neuroscience in the service of sexual stereotypes” (8/6/2006)
Sex-linked lexical budgets” (8/6/2006)
Sex and speaking rate” (8/7/2006)
Yet another sex-n-wordcount sighting” (8/14/2006)
The main job of the girl brain” (9/2/2006)
The superior cunning of women” (9/2/2006)
The laconic rapist in the womb” (9/4/2006)
Open-access sex stereotypes” (9/10/2006)
Gabby guys: the effect size” (9/25/2006)
“Every 52 seconds”: wrong by 23,736 percent?” (10/13/2006)
Guys are a bit gabbier in Dutch, too” (10/16/2006)
Two new reviews of Brizendine” (10/30/2006)
Word counts” (11/28/2006)
Sex differences in “communication events” per day?” (12/11/2006)

More on the spread of these ideas in the media:

Regression to the mean in British journalism(11/28/2006)
Censorship at the Daily Mail(11/29/2006)
Contagious misinformation(12/1/2006)
Femail again(12/2/2006)
Bible Science stories(12/2/2006)
Fabricated but true?(12/3/2006)
The spread of bogus numbers in the meme pool (12/16/2006)
Busy tongues (12/31/2006)
The silence of the men (12/29/2006)
Cerebro de El País (1/28/2007)
The Female Brain is out in Britain(4/4/2007)

And on Leonard Sax’s Why Gender Matters, and Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens’ The Minds of Boys:

David Brooks, cognitive neuroscientist” (6/12/2006)
Are men emotional children?” (6/24/2005)
Of rats and (wo)men” (8/19/2006)
Leonard Sax on hearing” (8/22/2006)
More on rats and men and women” (8/22/2006)
The emerging science of gendered yelling” (9/5/2006)
The vast arctic tundra of the male brain” (9/6/2006)
Girls and boys and classroom noise” (9/9/2006)

See also:

He bold as a hawk, she soft as the dawn” (9/14/2006)
Stereotypes and facts” (9/24/2006)
Gender myths: letting science mislead” (9/30/2006)
Political correctness, biology and culture” (10/31/2006)
When stereotypes hang out” (11/16/2006)
Dueling stereotypes” (11/18/2006)
The neuroendocrinologist formerly known as Prince“, 11/28/2006
Guess what?“, 2/20/2007
Women and men again, you know?“, 5/13/2007

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