Skip

Women don't talk more than man after all.
April 20, 2007 7:16 AM   Subscribe

The commonly held belief that women talk more than men is apparently a fabrication. The truth: "No reputable study has ever measured the widely repeated numerical comparisons that show women talking two or three times as much as men."
posted by 2shay (97 comments total)

 
Also: women not always late.
posted by hermitosis at 7:19 AM on April 20, 2007


I wonder if anyone has performed a study analyzing the sex differences and punctuality.
posted by 2shay at 7:22 AM on April 20, 2007


Also on the topic of "women talk more than men" is the coverage of the Becky Award by NPR and mefi's languagehat.
posted by peeedro at 7:25 AM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Essentially from day one, Language Log has been mocking every single appearance of this myth. I fucking love those guys.
posted by Plutor at 7:26 AM on April 20, 2007


But what do they talk about?
posted by DU at 7:27 AM on April 20, 2007


Good; I like seeing myths busted, misinformation corrected, and balderdash lampooned.

Now, if someone can just do something about this silly afterlife business...
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:31 AM on April 20, 2007


Makes sense. How much can you really say about shoes, boys, clothes and how fat you look?
posted by ND¢ at 7:31 AM on April 20, 2007 [8 favorites]


That article seems to be missing something. Like content.

But what do they talk about?

Duh, you big, silly, sexy man, you. We talk about what we can do to make you happy. It's what we live for.
posted by iconomy at 7:33 AM on April 20, 2007 [4 favorites]




Duh, you big, silly, sexy man, you. We talk about what we can do to make you happy. It's what we live for.


I knew it!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:38 AM on April 20, 2007


See also.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:38 AM on April 20, 2007


I'm curious how they measured this. It would seem to me that in some contexts women are more talkative than men, and in others the reverse is true.

I've noticed (and this observation may be wrong or biased by my sample) that men seem to talk more in group settings such as parties and small gatherings, whereas women seem to talk more in one-on-one settings.
posted by justkevin at 7:41 AM on April 20, 2007


Is there actually any good research on this question at all, one way or the other?
posted by Phanx at 7:47 AM on April 20, 2007




Actually, there have been many attempted studies, but so few women showed up because they kept getting into car accidents on the way to the study.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 8:03 AM on April 20, 2007 [6 favorites]


Thanks anyway, chuckdarwin.
posted by Phanx at 8:07 AM on April 20, 2007


they just found a million year-old female jawbone.

how did they know it was female?

it was still clacking!
posted by bruce at 8:09 AM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Actually, Terminal, those attempted studies really had to be abandoned because the men wouldn't ask directions to the study center and got hopelessly lost.
posted by Flakypastry at 8:13 AM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Does it count as talking if nobody's listening?
posted by Firas at 8:15 AM on April 20, 2007


While I'm not dismissing this research out of hand, and love to see a good myth cracked, I can't reconcile how these conclusions are completely opposite of my own personal life-long experience, which tells me that women most definitely talk more.

Can my 27-year experience really be a statistical anomaly?
posted by Parannoyed at 8:25 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Makes sense. How much can you really say about shoes, boys, clothes and how fat you look?

Whereas beer, baseball, guns and boobies? endless conversational fodder.
posted by jonmc at 8:26 AM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


The "good research" is referenced in this LL post and elsewhere.
posted by languagehat at 8:28 AM on April 20, 2007


i don't believe much in gender difference, but wasn't there a study recently about how much more women valued conversation than men do?

so they may not talk more (which makes sense assuming that in many places men still make the rules), but it seems that they value conversation more than men do. i'm not gonna look for the study.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:29 AM on April 20, 2007


Humans all talk. It's what we're good at. I suspect though that what people notice are differences in the amounts that men or women will talk in certain situations. At any rate, I notice I'm particularly stoic in some situations, which leads people to believe I just don't talk much. On the other hand, when amongst good friends, it all comes out. I suspect if people notice that a certain gender is quiet and blahblahblah sexism, maybe there's a reason for it. Maybe it's not that either set of people talks less, but just talks less when they see someone who they think is hot.
posted by taursir at 8:30 AM on April 20, 2007


Whether they talk more or not is irrelevant. What matters is that women can speak from the grave:

Here lies a woman, who can deny it,
she died in peace though lived unquiet.
Her husband prays, if o'er her grave you walk,
you would tread soft, you would tread soft,
for if she wakes, for if whe wakes, she'll talk;
tread soft, for if she wakes, she'll talk.


A round by John Hilton, published in 1652.
posted by Ohdemah at 8:36 AM on April 20, 2007


I prefer women who talk a lot. Too much energy involved in a relationship otherwise :P
posted by 2shay at 8:42 AM on April 20, 2007


Phanx - check languagehat's link
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:46 AM on April 20, 2007


I have no comment.
posted by schleppo at 8:48 AM on April 20, 2007


Whose posts tend to be longer, males' or females'?
Judging from recent flameouts, I'd say the boys are the chatterboxes around here.
posted by Dizzy at 8:54 AM on April 20, 2007


My post is longer than your post.
posted by jonmc at 8:55 AM on April 20, 2007


I would tend to agree with ya, Dizzy.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:57 AM on April 20, 2007


My study - watching an episode of Gilmore Girls followed by Mister Bean - indicates that women use 10,000 times more words in a day than men.
posted by teg at 9:08 AM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


But do female eskimos use more words to talk about snow?

Seriously, that this is (at best) a poorly researched folk theory or (at worst) a complete fabrication shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone with a scientific mindset.

But then I'd say the same description applies to the alleged sexist link. Instead, the notion that women tend on average to be more communication-oriented than men *is* supported by research. It has nothing to do with a supposed belief that "women should be silent", it's about the widespread impression that women appear to talk a lot.

This is backward reasoning to me.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:15 AM on April 20, 2007


It seems to me that there are two reaons people try to find, or forge, what amounts to hard scientific proof for Sinbad's old "women be different from men" routine. All of what follows is heavily armchair in nature, but it makes sense to me, so....

The more cynical reason: it is a step in the logic chain that justifies glass ceilings, female-shunning hiring practices and gender-specific employment assignment (women are teachers, airline attendants, nurses). Anything that supposes the observed social differences between men and women are the product of biology ultimately takes the form, somewhere down the line, as a list of things women can't do. (They could also say the same thing about men, but that doesn't so often occur.)

The more insidious reason: it justifies relationship differences, and old saws like "Women, who can understand them!" Anyone can understand them: they are human beings after all. If I can't understand them then perhaps the problem is with me... unless, the differences are the result of brain structure! Then it's not my fault; they're impossible to understand, because their brains are different. Problem solved, status quo preserved.

Men have a social reputation for it being natural to act in some way (Sports and beer, woo), and women another (Let's have a baby shower). But you know, the differences are so great that, if they aren't really biological, it would seem to imply that each is pushing themselves to conform to social roles in a way that a Disinterested Alien Observer (DAO) might consider to be, um, unhealthy?
posted by JHarris at 9:22 AM on April 20, 2007


Sometimes I think metafilter, ask in particular, soley exists to enable male answer syndrome (MAS) sufferers.

Actually, it's others who suffer, not the MAS bunch.
posted by bonehead at 9:23 AM on April 20, 2007


I'm sorry. Did you say something? I wasn't listening.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:30 AM on April 20, 2007


I'm sorry. Did you say something? I wasn't listening.

I'd say that you took the words out of my mouth but they were never there in the first place.
posted by srboisvert at 9:38 AM on April 20, 2007


@Parannoyed:
So, have you actually used a tape recorder while going through your day to record the minutes of male speech versus female speech that you hear?

There is some research (I think this is reported by Deborah Tannen somewhere) that, in a situation where men and women talk equally, or men talk more than women, the women are actually perceived as talking more. Why is that? Maybe it's because we have some subconscious belief that the "right" or "normal" situation is for women to talk very little, and when women talk more than a little that ends up being perceived as a lot. Maybe not. But you can't always trust what your personal experience says.
posted by Jeanne at 9:42 AM on April 20, 2007


parannoyed: Can my 27-year experience really be a statistical anomaly?

The more likely scenario is that you're just not in a good position to objectively evaluate something that you've casually encountered. You can't produce evidence to support your anecdotal experience and your memory of how much you or any other person speaks in a given day isn't an accurate measure -- that's the whole way these myths get started/propagated in the first place.

Record all of the conversations you hear for the next couple of years, run a sex-based word frequency analysis on it, and then get back to us with your counter-argument.
posted by camcgee at 9:49 AM on April 20, 2007


This is a situation where I do think 100 million independent observations (anecdotes) do count as data.

Anyone who denies women talk more than men just hasn't spent very much time around very many women.

It's one of those undeniable features of the world that no matter of scientific research is going to refute, because the studies all taint the subjects.

If the subjects know they are being listened to, due to their very nature (speaking in generalities, of course, because we're talking about the aggregate) men will talk more because they see it as a competition, whereas women would talk less to appear demure or not very aggressive.

I'm one of the most talkative people you will ever meet... I would go so far as to say I am the most talkative male that I know... but there are any multitude of women that can talk me under the table on any given day.

Women talk constantly, men don't listen. We don't need SCIENCE! to try to prove or disprove something that everyone knows innately to be true because of direct experience.

It's like quantum experiments. Once you try to measure it, you've tainted the results.

Or something.

Look. Put 5 men in a room, you will have 1 conversation. They will go around in a circle each relating and contributing their own $0.02. The subject will bounce around a lot, trying to find a groove that everyone is comfortable with. It'll likely end up being reminiscing about high school or girls, or possibly reminiscing about high school girls.

Put 5 women in a room, and you will have at least 3 conversations going, and each girl is participating in each conversation, often simultaneously. And at least one conversation will be about something that happened to someone at least 4 levels removed from anyone in the conversation. Like someone's sister's coworker's child's schoolteacher's parents' housekeeper's aunt.

(Note that most of the above is meant as humor, but like all humor, has a nugget of truth. And I'm a guy, so I'm really not all that smart to begin with. Seriously.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:52 AM on April 20, 2007


Put 5 men in a room, you will have 1 conversation
Put 5 women in a room, and you will have at least 3 conversations going,


Put them all in the same room, with plentiful libations and you might have an orgy. or a brawl.
posted by jonmc at 9:55 AM on April 20, 2007


Put them all in the same room, with plentiful libations and you might have an orgy. or a brawl.
posted by jonmc at 11:55 AM on April 20


What's wrong with both?
posted by Ynoxas at 10:02 AM on April 20, 2007


Metafilter: An orgy brawl.
posted by darkstar at 10:06 AM on April 20, 2007


ynoxas: Women talk constantly, men don't listen. We don't need SCIENCE! to try to prove or disprove something that everyone knows innately to be true because of direct experience.

We need SCIENCE! because "innate" knowledge is not a reliable way of determining truth. Being alive and watching people interact doesn't magically make someone an expert on human behavior; believing something simply because it's "obvious" is what leads people into the oblivion of stereotypes in the first place.
posted by camcgee at 10:06 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anyone who denies women talk more than men just hasn't spent very much time around very many women.

Jesus Christ.

A couple of generations back:

"Anyone who denies blacks aren't as smart as whites just hasn't spent very much time around very many blacks."

Rinse and repeat for every ignorant prejudice lazy yahoos prefer to actual data because, you know, getting actual data is work.
posted by languagehat at 10:27 AM on April 20, 2007 [8 favorites]


I have never once before this post heard the assertion that women talk more than men. I'm not kidding. (And it strikes me as absurd.)
posted by trip and a half at 10:33 AM on April 20, 2007


languagehat: as a lazy yahoo, I resent that remark. ;>
posted by jonmc at 10:39 AM on April 20, 2007


Rinse and repeat for every ignorant prejudice lazy yahoos prefer to actual data because, you know, getting actual data is work.

I tend to agree, hatmeister, although on grounds of it being unscientific, not prejudiced (it *is* prejudiced, perhaps, but that's not the point to me).

What I'm wondering is, what do *you* think? Do you lend any credence, personally, to the idea that on average women use more words in a day than men? Just curious.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:51 AM on April 20, 2007


Yes, dear.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:51 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually research on this should be even easier than your typical gender-based argument because talking more or talking less isn't that much of a value issue, and it's not asking about innate capacity—it's just asking about the actual manifestation. Do women talk more or less than men? Straight data-point.

(When it comes to men vs. women talking, the obligatory book to mention is Deborah Tannen's 'You Just Don't Understand!' It's a mass-market book but if I remember correctly she has some grounding in cognitive linguistics. Although, I'm personally not a big fan of the state of the science in that field—cognitive-anything is such an infant discipline these days.)
posted by Firas at 10:53 AM on April 20, 2007


I was wondering the other day what it is about sexism that causes so many people to immediately diffuse the conversation with jokes. Racism? Very serious, perhaps even morally outrageous. Perhaps even so with classism. Sexism? Cue the shoe shopping jokes.
posted by gignomai at 10:57 AM on April 20, 2007


I think this may be a corrolary to "time flies when you're having fun" and the like — it never seems wordy when you're interested.

I suspect that the guys who accuse women of talking too much are just consistently less interested in what women have to say.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:03 AM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Racism? Very serious, perhaps even morally outrageous. Perhaps even so with classism. Sexism? Cue the shoe shopping jokes.

Maybe that's true elsewhere, but MeFites can make light of any injustice. It's (sigh) one of our specialties.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:05 AM on April 20, 2007


Metafilter: An orgy brawl.

A Brawgy?
posted by Grangousier at 11:08 AM on April 20, 2007


Racism? Very serious, perhaps even morally outrageous. Perhaps even so with classism. Sexism? Cue the shoe shopping jokes.

Huh? It's because shoe shopping doesn't cause anyone to burn their bride, yo! Unlike (say) jokes about the poor being lazy, which as an assumption does cause collatoral policy damage.

I do see what you mean though, there are lots of relatively innocous ways that you can stereotype blacks or asians that people won't tolerate (fried chicken!) but you can stereotype women (or men) willy-nilly.

Also, women are more into shoe-shopping than men. What?
posted by Firas at 11:08 AM on April 20, 2007


Actually talking more is a negative it suggests vapidity. In addition men who talk too much are despised by men and women. That said I still think women talk more either that or I have seen fewer conversations of substance among women.
posted by Rubbstone at 11:09 AM on April 20, 2007


A perfect parallel is something like jokes about gay men being stylish. Sure it's a lame (and patently untrue) stereotype, but it's not actively harmful, much.
posted by Firas at 11:09 AM on April 20, 2007


What I'm wondering is, what do *you* think?

I think it's complete poppycock. See the Language Log post I linked above, and the research therein quoted.
posted by languagehat at 11:18 AM on April 20, 2007


Purely in the interests of troublemaking, and assuming it's not already on the front page or that this link isn't an answer to it:

Men work the same amount as women according to Slate.

It's wonderful what you can do with data, isn't it?
posted by Grangousier at 11:18 AM on April 20, 2007


Rubbstone: Maybe they wait until you leave.
posted by gignomai at 11:18 AM on April 20, 2007


It's one of those undeniable features of the world that no matter of scientific research is going to refute, because the studies all taint the subjects.

Tainted by science. I love it.

If the subjects know they are being listened to, due to their very nature (speaking in generalities, of course, because we're talking about the aggregate) men will talk more because they see it as a competition, whereas women would talk less to appear demure or not very aggressive.

You assume your conclusions. Those tainted scientists would consider this a couple of very easily testable hypotheses that they would then test to find out if they were in fact true rather than simply asserting them.

It is also extremely easy to record and analyze conversations without the awareness of the research participants through simple deceptions like a crowded waiting room before an experiment.

I'm one of the most talkative people you will ever meet... I would go so far as to say I am the most talkative male that I know... but there are any multitude of women that can talk me under the table on any given day.

Perhaps they blinded you with science? SCIENCE!. Good heavens Ms. Sakamoto! You're beautiful!

There is already a lot of research on this. There was a lot over 10 years ago [or is that 15 years ago? I don't want to do the math!] when I took a social interaction course that focused on discourse analysis during my undergrad. If I recall correctly there was also significant differences in people's judgment of how much an individual spoke based gender. Women are seen to talk more than they actually do and men to talk less than they actually do. Thus the continued insistent of the anecdotards that the tainting science must be wrong.

[btw psychology today ranks somewhere around cosmo for academic cred]
posted by srboisvert at 11:19 AM on April 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


*makes halfhearted "whatever" grunt, shrugs shoulders*
posted by fandango_matt at 11:20 AM on April 20, 2007


In my very very unscientific observations, I've found that men talk to each other less than women talk to each other - BUT - men will talk far more than women in a mixed gender situation. I've definitely had my ear talked off by far more men than women.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:20 AM on April 20, 2007




Can we have a scientific study (or at least a survey) to investigate whether this myth of women talking more than men is 'commonly held'? And in other news: commonly held beliefs are usually baseless!
posted by algreer at 11:26 AM on April 20, 2007


Your pixels are moving, but you're not saying anything.
posted by Dizzy at 11:32 AM on April 20, 2007


anecdotards

I'm filing that one away for a special occasion.

I would just like to temper my earlier comment by saying that only yesterday afternoon, a male friend of mine unloaded on me for litereally an hour and a half about his bleeding-edge tech fetish

upshot: I *could* be wrong. =)
posted by Parannoyed at 11:41 AM on April 20, 2007


wow, l-hat figured out how to play the race card! race and gender are just conflatable grounds of perpetual grievance for some people.
posted by bruce at 11:43 AM on April 20, 2007


And as for that shoe shopping, actually: Median annual credit-card debt for single women was just $1,900 in 2004, compared with $2,000 for single men, according to the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances.

You have to divide by gays.
posted by ND¢ at 12:01 PM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


As a chronic talker, I would posit that men talk FAR more than women when the subject is themselves (especially if they're in the company of a woman or women), or if the subject can be turned to being about them.
posted by maxwelton at 12:02 PM on April 20, 2007


Yikes.
Does EVERYTHING have to be about you?
posted by Dizzy at 12:03 PM on April 20, 2007


Hmm. I'm regretting the use of the [small] markup about now.

I have never once before this post heard the assertion that women talk more than men. I'm not kidding.

So then, basically, you are unaware of sit-coms, stand-up comedy, humor columnists, satirists, or old men who sit around on park benches.

And LH, thanks for the immediate link to racism. I knew it was just a matter of time. As far as the research goes, it reminds me of the cell phones cause/don't cause brain tumors, and eggs are good for you/kill you.

I stand by my assertion that if you, in any way, monitor the subjects in any sort of controlled, scientific environment, you are going to fundamentally alter the way they are behaving.

I can set up a hidden video camera at the local coffee shop right now and show you 2 or 3 men sitting quietly alone, while 4 pairs of girls and one triplet talk incessantly, and have for the last 2 hours. But see, that wouldn't be a scientific study, I know that. But if I, in any way, alter that natural environment, I have artificially influenced it, and for something as base and fundamental as speaking, I think it would alter it irreparably.

No matter what pretense you use to gather people up into a controlled environment, you are going to alter the way they are acting.

If I gather 100 undergrads into a gymnasium under the guise of doing height distributions, and secretly tape their interaction while waiting, this in no way mirrors or reflects the way they behave naturally.

With all that said, I realize that any difference, if there even is truly one, is rather small and certainly not to the degree that everyone jokes about.

My own comments were meant to be humorous, but this is a situation where the truth may not be as obscured as it seems.

And in other news: commonly held beliefs are usually baseless!
posted by algreer at 1:26 PM on April 20


That's right! Snow being cold, fires being hot, rain getting you wet, and bears being dangerous are all ridiculous concepts commonly held by the ignorant populace!

Your comment is absurd. Commonly held beliefs are *USUALLY* correct. That's how they came to be commonly held.

It would do you good to consider HOW things come to be commonly held.

People sometimes have other motives than trying to be as sexist/racist as possible. Shocking, I know!
posted by Ynoxas at 12:20 PM on April 20, 2007


"Fabrication" is a pretty strong word to use here—the word means "invent or concoct". It implies an active motive, that somebody has deliberately put about a falsehood. "Misunderstanding" is probably more to the point, or perhaps just "mistruth".
posted by humblepigeon at 12:22 PM on April 20, 2007


Ynoxas, do you have much experience with social science research? This is a genuine question. The empirical method in anthro etc. is as concerned with observation bias and—argh, I forget the term, but the tendency of subjects under observation to change their behavior by virtue of being observed—and suchlike as anybody else is.
posted by Firas at 12:25 PM on April 20, 2007


the tendency of subjects under observation to change their behavior by virtue of being observed

In CogSci class we simply called that the "observer effect".

more to the point, or perhaps just "mistruth".

Or falsehood? I don't know, but my gut feeling is that there is 'truth' to this myth, alleged sexism be damned. It would indeed be difficult to convincingly conclude from research - but then I find the research cited on LL not too convincing either.

I am somehow reminded of how the nature and working of purring in cats has eluded scientists up to now, partly because cats are highly unlikely to purr in any laboratory setting.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:32 PM on April 20, 2007


but then I find the research cited on LL not too convincing either.

To clarify, I mean to say that if we're talking about this research, the experiment had the subjects discuss a specific task, which to me seems detrimental to ecological validity - unless you want to infer a relation between gender and speech frequency when speaking about a specific task.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:38 PM on April 20, 2007


With the exception of any two guys talking Buckeye football -- :oP -- and this one guy who lives at the intersection of Metrosexual and Pathetically Overage Hipster Wannabee, the women in our office seem to be more verbose than the guys on non-work subjects. Not scientific, just subjective.
posted by pax digita at 12:43 PM on April 20, 2007


I think the point being brought here is quite valid.

The difficulty in pulling valid data from these kind of experiments is that it's close to impossible to provide a reasonably representative amount of situations, topics and demographics to make it valid. Humans interact very differently in different situations.
posted by Parannoyed at 1:06 PM on April 20, 2007


"I suspect that the guys who accuse women of talking too much are just consistently less interested in what women have to say.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:03 PM on April 20 [+][!]"

Nebula wins.

The idea that women talk more than men is perpetuated because (in my opinion), men often dont find women's topic of conversation interesting.

When men say women talk a lot, it means "women talk a lot about things that I wouldn't talk about", and I would postulate that the reverse is probably true for women listening to men.

One person's mindless chatter is another person's reason d'atre (sp)
posted by rosswald at 1:07 PM on April 20, 2007


This is a situation where I do think 100 million independent observations (anecdotes) do count as data.

Anyone who denies women talk more than men just hasn't spent very much time around very many women.


as someone above suggested, how do you know you don't just notice some people talking more than others? Perhaps people with high pitched voices are more evident to you as "talkers"...

I think this may be a corrolary to "time flies when you're having fun" and the like — it never seems wordy when you're interested.

or who talk about dumb topics stand out while people whose conversation you actually enjoy are just part of your interacting world. You don't separate a person out as "someone who talks a lot" if you're actually engaged in the discussion.

I would say the question might be what topics men vs women are interested in talking about. I think of it as my experience that women are more interested in talking about their internal experiences, that is, describing or evaluating their individual, emotive, responsive, psychological, etc states, while men are more likely to consider that a waste of time, or even meaningless - not because they're not emotional, but because they want to act out emotional moments rather than describe them, whereas for a lot of women, describing the internal experience is a fundamental part of living it.

I don't know if this is a projected stereotype, a non gender-specific personality trait that's randomly been somewhat gender-specific in my experience, or a culture-wide phenomenon of nature/nurture.
posted by mdn at 1:12 PM on April 20, 2007


If I gather 100 undergrads into a gymnasium under the guise of doing height distributions, and secretly tape their interaction while waiting, this in no way mirrors or reflects the way they behave naturally.

How so? The situation is artificial? Like the thousands of artificial situations we find ourselves in everyday? I can't even concieve of what you require for a situation to mirror what occurs "naturally". A glade with a nearby stream, rolling clouds and a sunny day perhaps?

What theoretical reasons are there for believing that this surreptitious observation will fundamentally alter their behaviour? What mechanisms could do this if the observation was covert? ESP? Quantum Entanglement? Bluetooth? The Force?
posted by srboisvert at 1:18 PM on April 20, 2007


In my time, I've had to endure women taking huge chunks of time to explain their clothing, their musical choices, their Byzantine food preferences, why their roomates always screw them over, the details of their broken extended family and, I swear to Christ, the properties of the various magical rocks they've collected over the years.

I've also had to endure guys explaining their engines, why Dane Cook is OMG so funny, their sexual conquests both real and imagined, why I really ought to convert my apartment to grow weed/crank, their unsolicited political opinions and, fuck me sideways, spoken word slam poetry.

My non-scientific conclusion? Men and women could stand to shut the hell up every once in awhile.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:32 PM on April 20, 2007


srboisvert: I mean situations where people normally gather, of their own accord, and interact, as opposed to being corralled or herded by some researchers. People are going to behave very differently at a friend's backyard BBQ than at the Psych department waiting to have their hand-span and nose-length measured.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:41 PM on April 20, 2007


Here's a thought.

Suppose that, in some socioeconomic groups, women talk more than men. In other socioeconomic groups, men talk more than women on average. And every level in between, including "exactly the same amount" on average.

Now let's say that the socioeconomic groups in which women talk more than men are ALSO -- by pure coincidence -- the same groups in which both men and women are substantially more likely to view members of the opposite sex via sweeping generalizations based on observed behavior.

And so whatever the typical behavior of that socioeconomic group is becomes the myth about gender behavior in all socioeconomic groups.
posted by davejay at 2:21 PM on April 20, 2007


"You talk to much, oh no you never shut up, I said you talk to much you know you never shup up......" who sang that? I can't remember.

Perhaps this perception of womens talking more than the mens comes from one group not wanting to hear what the other is saying.

Anyway, everyone knows it's bad science to create the outcome that you wanted in your data. It sure does seem like most "studies" that you see on this follow that model.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 2:25 PM on April 20, 2007


nebulawindphone: I suspect that the guys who accuse women of talking too much are just consistently less interested in what women have to say.

That's roughly what I was going to say. I posit that more women will attempt to make conversation with men about stuff that men have no interest in, prompting the "don't they ever shut up about that stuff" type of response. Whereas more guys won't even attempt to talk to women about stuff they talk about with other guys.

trip and a half: I have never once before this post heard the assertion that women talk more than men. I'm not kidding. (And it strikes me as absurd.)

I can't say I've heard it much, either. I've heard men say that women talk about stupid stuff, but not that they necessarily talk a *lot*. :)

(I'm a woman, and I believe both genders talk about equally stupid stuff. I personally am not much of a talker, and I spent much of my day talking to a guy who loves the sound of his own voice more than just about anything. Whereas I'm a huge e-mailer, and he doesn't get as into it. So I'm abnormal and hang out with abnormal people, I guess.)
posted by iguanapolitico at 2:28 PM on April 20, 2007


I posit that more women will attempt to make conversation with men about stuff that men have no interest in, prompting the "don't they ever shut up about that stuff" type of response.

Heh, I'm not sure that's quite the same spin nebulawindphone was putting on it...
posted by gignomai at 2:45 PM on April 20, 2007


So what have we learned?

MeFites all talk too much.
posted by jonmc at 3:33 PM on April 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Heh, I'm not sure that's quite the same spin nebulawindphone was putting on it...

I wonder how much different it could possibly be. :)
posted by iguanapolitico at 4:08 PM on April 20, 2007


Amen.
I'd say more but I'm stuffing myself with corn muffins.
posted by Dizzy at 4:09 PM on April 20, 2007


It's an undeniable feature of the world that Ynoxas is totally talking out of his ass right now, and no amount of SCIENCE is going to convince me otherwise.
posted by myeviltwin at 5:13 PM on April 20, 2007


Trust me, your science is the last thing I want near my ass.

Yes, I'm the only one who has ever put forth this line of thought, since there is an entire cultural meme about it, and this very thread is citing research trying to refute it.

But yeah, it was all me. Sorry about that. My bad.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:55 PM on April 20, 2007


For what it's worth, my workplace is roughly equal in terms of males and females and I have noticed that the women tend to talkative first thing in the morning and the men tend to be more chatty in the afternoon.

I wonder if others notice the same thing?? I mean, I'm not even awake yet at 7am and my female co-workers are having a loudass gabfest to the point where I have to remove myself before my skull cracks open.

Then, later in the day, the males get their groove and you can't shut em up. Usually it sports and sundry gossip... but really the boys seem to be having quite a hoot fully seven hours after the girls... I wonder if there's a reason for it??

I can't imagine this would be exclusive to my workplace.
posted by crowman at 11:08 PM on April 20, 2007


Ynoxas: the absurdity you're pushing is that this 'cultural meme' would be true despite scientific investigation, because scientific investigation is somehow fundamentally flawed. If all you were saying is that you're not convinced and will be interested in further research, that's one thing. But you're making a bizarre claim that anecdotal evidence trumps field research entirely. Step back a bit and realize how ridiculous that sounds. Would you take anecdotal tales about how monkeys behave over actual research into monkeys? Would you take lay impressions of finance options over people trained in financial instruments?
posted by Firas at 11:09 PM on April 20, 2007


crowman: my workplace is like that too.
posted by joannemerriam at 10:12 AM on April 21, 2007


West, Candace/Zimmerman, Don: "Small Insults: A Study of Interruptions in Cross-Sex Conversations between Unaquainted Persons". In: Thorne, Barry/Kramarae, Cheris/ Henley, Nancy (eds.) (1983): Language, Gender and Society. Rowley, MA: 127-150.

This study focussed on the incidences of interruption in cross- and same-sex conversations and found that men interrupt more often whether their co-conversationalist is male or female. "Dominance" in language is about more than the number of words used or the content of vocabularies; language is deployed in and as social interaction and thus it is useful to consider findings from conversation analysis (an area of sociology, not linquistics) to discern power and dominance.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:34 PM on April 21, 2007


I have never once before this post heard the assertion that women talk more than men. I'm not kidding.

So then, basically, you are unaware of sit-coms, stand-up comedy, humor columnists, satirists, or old men who sit around on park benches.

Oh, sorry. I meant the serious assertion.
posted by trip and a half at 11:27 PM on April 21, 2007


« Older Venus, get your gun.   |   Music! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post