Mega-mouthy: Which is the talkative sex?
- Mega-mouthy: Which is the talkative sex?* 31 December 2007* From New Scientist Print Edition. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.* Hazel MuirIt's probably one of the oldest gags in the book. A husband browsing through the newspaper finds an article saying that women use far more words than men. He gleefully points this out to his wife. "Listen to this - it says here that men use about 15,000 words a day, but women use 30,000.""It's because we have to repeat everything we say," she replies."What?" says the man.It's a deeply ingrained perception - women talk more than men, right? But two recent studies have knocked this myth on the head. The first study was provoked by a 2006 book called The Female Brain, by neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine. The first edition claimed that a woman says about 20,000 words per day while a man utters only about 7000.This sounded bizarre to Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. His team had recorded college students' everyday speech between 1998 and 2004 as part of a project to understand the influence of talking on emotional health.Hundreds of students had worn digital devices that recorded 30 seconds of sound every 12.5 minutes. If women talked three times as much as men, they would have noticed, Mehl says. "We knew there just couldn't be such a big difference."So his team analysed archived recordings of 210 women and 186 men. They estimate the women spoke on average 16,215 words per day while the men said 15,669 words - not a statistically significant difference, they reported in July (Science, vol 317, p 82). "We were surprised that there was essentially no difference whatsoever," says Mehl. "I suppose we were also susceptible to the stereotype, so we thought it would go slightly in favour of the women."For the complete article see New Scientist