Friday, July 6, 2007

Do Women Really Talk More Than Men?

In their article published today in Science, "Are Women Really More Talkative Than Men?" Mehl, et al. address what has become a cultural "truth" quantified in the book "The Female Brain" by Brizendine. There it is claimed that women use about 20,000 words a day while a men use about 7,000. But Mehl and colleagues have studied the actual conversations of nearly 400 people over the past 8 years. The histograms above from their online supplement display the findings. Women spoke an average of 16,215 words a day with a standard deviation of 7301 words. Men spoke an average of 15,669 words a day with a standard deviation of 8633 words. A one-sided t-test results in a p-value of 0.2479. Hardly a significant finding. Each group spoke about 16,000 words a day with large individual variation. This illustrates perfectly the quote by novelist Ivy Compton-Burnett, "There is more difference within the sexes than between them."

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