Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Do women talk more than men? It depends

16.07.2014

We’ve all heard the stereo­type: Women like to talk. We bounce ideas off each other about every­thing from career moves to dinner plans. We hash out big deci­sions through our con­ver­sa­tions with one another and work through our emo­tions with discussion.

At least, that’s what “they” say. But is any of it actu­ally true? Can we really make such sweeping gen­er­al­iza­tions about the com­mu­ni­ca­tion pat­terns of women versus those of men?

The research is sur­pris­ingly thin con­sid­ering the strength of the stereo­type: Some studies say yes, women are more talk­a­tive than men. Others say there’s no pat­tern at all. Still others say men are even bigger chatterboxes.

Per­haps all this con­tra­dic­tion comes from the dif­fi­culty of studying such a phe­nom­enon. Most of these studies rely on either self-​​reported data, in which researchers gather infor­ma­tion by asking sub­jects about their past con­ver­sa­tional exploits, or obser­va­tional data, in which researchers watch the inter­ac­tions directly. But both of these approaches bring with them some hefty lim­i­ta­tions.

For one thing, our mem­o­ries are not nearly as good as we like to think they are. Sec­ondly, researchers can only observe so many people at once, meaning large data sets, which offer the most sta­tis­tical power to detect dif­fer­ences, are hard to come by. Another chal­lenge with direct obser­va­tion is that sub­jects may act in a more affil­ia­tive manner in front of a researcher.

But a new study from North­eastern pro­fessor David Lazer, who researches social net­works and holds joint appoint­ments in the Depart­ment of Polit­ical Sci­ence and the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ences, takes a dif­ferent approach. Using so-​​called “sociometers”—wearable devices roughly the size of smart­phones that col­lect real-​​time data about the user’s social interactions—Lazer’s team was able to tease out a more accu­rate pic­ture of the talkative-​​woman stereo­type we’re so familiar with—and they found that con­text plays a large role.

The research was pub­lished Tuesday in the journal Sci­en­tific Reports and rep­re­sents one of the first aca­d­emic papers to use sociome­ters to address this kind of question. The research team includes Jukka-​​Pekka Onnela, who pre­vi­ously worked in Lazer’s lab and is now at the Har­vard School of Public Health, as well as researchers at the MIT Media Lab­o­ra­tory and the Har­vard Kennedy School.

For their study, the research team pro­vided a group of men and women with sociome­ters and split them in two dif­ferent social set­tings for a total of 12 hours. In the first set­ting, master’s degree can­di­dates were asked to com­plete an indi­vidual project, about which they were free to con­verse with one another for the dura­tion of a 12-​​hour day. In the second set­ting, employees at a call-​​center in a major U.S. banking firm wore the sociome­ters during 12 one-​​hour lunch breaks with no des­ig­nated task.

They found that women were only slightly more likely than men to engage in con­ver­sa­tions inthe lunch-​​break set­ting, both in terms of long– and short-​​duration talks. In the aca­d­emic set­ting, in which con­ver­sa­tions likely indi­cated col­lab­o­ra­tion around the task, women were much more likely to engage in long con­ver­sa­tions than men. That effect was true for shorter con­ver­sa­tions, too, but to a lesser degree. These find­ings were lim­ited to small groups of talkers. When the groups con­sisted of six or more par­tic­i­pants, it was men who did the most talking.

In the one set­ting that is more col­lab­o­ra­tive we see the women choosing to work together, and when you work together you tend to talk more,” said Lazer, who is also co-​​director of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Net­works, Northeastern’s research-​​based center for dig­ital human­i­ties and com­pu­ta­tional social sci­ence. “So it’s a very par­tic­ular sce­nario that leads to more inter­ac­tions. The real story here is there’s an inter­play between the set­ting and gender which cre­ated this difference.”

Casey Bayer | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2014/07/do-women-talk-more-than-men-it-depends/

Further reports about: MIT Social Networks large data sets sociome­ters

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Researchers observe major hand hygiene problems in operating rooms
30.03.2015 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Electric vehicle range in 450,000 kilometer real-world test
30.03.2015 | Technische Universität Chemnitz

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Experiment Provides the Best Look Yet at 'Warm Dense Matter' at Cores of Giant Planets

In an experiment at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists precisely measured the temperature and structure of aluminum as...

Im Focus: Energy-autonomous and wireless monitoring protects marine gearboxes

The IPH presents a solution at HANNOVER MESSE 2015 to make ship traffic more reliable while decreasing the maintenance costs at the same time. In cooperation with project partners, the research institute from Hannover, Germany, has developed a sensor system which continuously monitors the condition of the marine gearbox, thus preventing breakdowns. Special feature: the monitoring system works wirelessly and energy-autonomously. The required electrical power is generated where it is needed – directly at the sensor.

As well as cars need to be certified regularly (in Germany by the TÜV – Technical Inspection Association), ships need to be inspected – if the powertrain stops...

Im Focus: 3-D satellite, GPS earthquake maps isolate impacts in real time

Method produced by UI researcher could improve reaction time to deadly, expensive quakes

When an earthquake hits, the faster first responders can get to an impacted area, the more likely infrastructure--and lives--can be saved.

Im Focus: Atlantic Ocean overturning found to slow down already today

The Atlantic overturning is one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards. Also known as the Gulf Stream system, it is responsible for the mild climate in northwestern Europe. 

Scientists now found evidence for a slowdown of the overturning – multiple lines of observation suggest that in recent decades, the current system has been...

Im Focus: Robot inspects concrete garage floors and bridge roadways for damage

Because they are regularly subjected to heavy vehicle traffic, emissions, moisture and salt, above- and underground parking garages, as well as bridges, frequently experience large areas of corrosion. Most inspection systems to date have only been capable of inspecting smaller surface areas.

From April 13 to April 17 at the Hannover Messe (hall 2, exhibit booth C16), engineers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing IZFP will be...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Conference On Regenerative Medicine 2015: Registration And Abstract Submission Now Open

25.03.2015 | Event News

University presidents from all over the world meet in Hamburg

19.03.2015 | Event News

10. CeBiTec Symposium zum Big Data-Problem

17.03.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

BLS Cargo orders 15 multisystem locomotives

30.03.2015 | Press release

Shark Tagged by NSU’s Guy Harvey Research Institute Is Apparently Enjoying Time in Warm, Tropical Waters

30.03.2015 | Life Sciences

Antarctic Ice Shelves Rapidly Thinning

30.03.2015 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>