Guys gab as much as gals

Jul 172007
Authors: Sean Reed

Men have one less thing to talk about nowadays.

Women, according to a study released early this month, are not the obsessive talkers they have been painted to be.

The study, performed by a research team at the University of Arizona, found the discrepancy between how many words men and women speak per day to be smaller than many would believe and what has been previously reported.

The study found that women speak roughly 16,215 word per day versus men’s 15, 669.

That’s a difference of 546 words, which according to Matthias Mehl, the lead researcher, is not very significant, especially when keeping in mind that the most and least talkative people in the study were separated by a difference of about 46,000 words per day.

“Individuals differ, but the difference between men and women is practically meaningless,” Mehl told the Collegian last week.

Chris Linder, director of Women’s Programs and Studies at CSU echoed similar sentiments, saying personality was a bigger factor.

“[The] amount of time [spent talking] has a lot to do with personality and not necessarily gender,” Linder said.

An earlier study, however, published by Louann Brizendine, the director of the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California at San Francisco, in her book “The Female Brain,” reported women as speaking almost three times as much as their male counterparts. Her figures – cited from an even earlier study – showed women say roughly 20,000 words per day and men only 7,000.

Dr. Brizendine did not return phone calls or e-mails from the Collegian.

Mehl said her study raised questions and later prompted his research.

“We have from our research found there was no way the difference could be that big,” he said.

Linder, on the other hand, was not surprised to hear of these conflicting results.

“I think [the results] depend on who [researchers] were talking to and who they were studying,” she said.

She did, however, add, “Some research is done better than others.”

The myth of garrulous women and silent men, she says, rather than being the result of scientific differences, is more likely the result of a dying stereotype.

“I think the perception [that women talk more] is one of those running jokes,” Linder said.

She also warned against the danger of such stereotypes.

“I think any sort of stereotypes.are hurtful to whoever they are about.”

Mehl agreed, warning, “Be careful when you take your giant magnifying glass and make gender explain behavior.”

Sean Cummings, an incoming freshman English and performing arts major, said he, like the study’s researchers, believes there is no scientific basis for a difference between men and women’s speaking patterns.

“It’s rampant misogyny,” he said.

Cummings, however, thinks this study alone is not enough to dispel the stereotype, but that “the a good starting point.”

Mehl, too, expressed doubt at the reliability of his numbers.

“These 500 [words] are statistically unreliable,” he said.

However, when asked who talked more, he or his wife, Mehl answered in support of his findings that women are not necessarily chattier.

“I think I talk more.”

Staff writer Sean Reed can be reached at

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