Do women talk more?

Today, study published Science magazine: 396 subjects wear tiny
microphones. Result: whoops.  Women emit 16,125 words per day, men
15,669.  Statistically, even-steven.

Here is the story.  I am pretty quiet, though, so I do my part to uphold the honor of men.


Hmm, I've had Deborah Tannen's:

Women (25,000 words per day) and Men (10,000 words per day) in my head ever since premarital counseling.

I am certainly willing to concede a move to parity based on the post-feminist-modern-metrosexual counterrevolution. But that also leads my confirmation bias baggage to suspect that guys in college are macking on chicks big time, so of course they need to talk more then they want to. Once they reel in a victim, they can dial it back down to a fraction of the woman's word count. And the unattached guys would be more available for this study to begin with, or need the money to buy more women drinks.

Nothing in the article helps me overcome my bias. But it helps me check it quite a bit.

I probably shouldn't do this, but in order to answer "blink"'s commments, I typed in the data from the plotted histogram. I reproduced the means given in the article.

I then computed the medians by finding the bins that contain half of the sample of men (93) or women (107.5). I interpolate through the bins to get a better guess at the median (in other words, the bin the contains the 93rd male starts at the 86th male and ends at the 100th male, hence the 93rd male is the middle of that bin).

The median values are ~13000 for men and ~14000 for women, half a bin apart. The average in both cases are skewed by outliers and by almost the same amount.

Discussing the mode when the bins have a maximum of ~25 points in them is pretty meaningless. Poisson errors yield 20% errors on the expectation value with those size numbers making the mode even more sensitive to outliers than the mean.

The interquartile ranges are the same, ~10000 words.

I will leave computation of the biweight center and scale as an exercise for the reader.

This reminds me of something I heard in a meeting:

Senior VP of Marketing: "What 5 words can we use to describe [new product]."

Male voice from back of room: "Can they be really big words?"

It's the nature of the talk, the kind of talk, too. Men punch out a lot of jokes, information and opinion, where women go on about feelings, experiences, and pulling apart relationships and characters. If men can look like assertive bullies to women, women can seem to go on and on forever about sheer drivel to men. My wife jokes that mens' natural form of self-expression is the op-ed piece, where women's natural form of self-expression is yakking about feelings and people over coffee and cookies with a girlfriend.

I'm inclined to go with blowhard's general viewpoint. Women complain men don't share their feelings, while men aren't entirely thrilled that women talk a lot about theirs.

This doesn't mean that men don't talk as much, but perhaps men don't talk as much in the company of women? Get some men together without women present, or with a large enough component of men, and I can pretty much guarantee you that at some point the men (overall, there are outliers) will be talking an awful lot about sports with minimal input for them women.

I'm sick of seeing media coverage of gender studies that treats not rejecting the null hypothesis the same as proving it.

Caveat: the study used college students. Their habits may or may not be representative.

I feel obliged to point out Language Log here:

They have been hitting this topic for a long while, and that link is to their latest posting, noting that the blog is cited in "Are women really more talkative than men?"

Not in my house.

College students are typical of, well, college students.

Upholding the "honor" of men, huh? Please remind me why it is necessary to assign "honor" to a misplaced, and perhaps disproven, stereotype. While I too would rather put a fork in my eye than listen to mindless chatter, I don't assume, or find, that it comes from one sex more than the other, much less that men alone are honorable when they refrain from it.

~16,000 words per day sounds too much. Assuming 8 hours of sleep each day, a person would speak ~1000 words per hour, or 16.67 per minute, or one word every three and a half seconds during their hours awake.

The numbers appear very inflated (even for college students). Either the algorithm that counted the words is broken or they just happened to find 396 people who just never shuts up.

"I don't assume, or find, that it comes from one sex more than the other, much less that men alone are honorable when they refrain from it."

Women are MORE honorable when they refrain - for it is harder for them to.

Perhaps men speak as much as women....but no one's listening.

Someone raised the issue as to whether or not men talked less around women...Liberman looked at mixed-sex interaction and found men talked more.

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