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 Research investigates whether solar events could trigger birth defects on Earth
21.07.2015 | University of Kansas

nachricht Accounting for short-lived forcers in carbon budgets
15.07.2015 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: On the crest of the wave: Electronics on a time scale shorter than a cycle of light

Physicists from Regensburg and Marburg, Germany have succeeded in taking a slow-motion movie of speeding electrons in a solid driven by a strong light wave. In the process, they have unraveled a novel quantum phenomenon, which will be reported in the forthcoming edition of Nature.

The advent of ever faster electronics featuring clock rates up to the multiple-gigahertz range has revolutionized our day-to-day life. Researchers and...

Im Focus: Superfast fluorescence sets new speed record

Plasmonic device has speed and efficiency to serve optical computers

Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.

Im Focus: Unlocking the rice immune system

Joint BioEnergy Institute study identifies bacterial protein that is key to protecting rice against bacterial blight

A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team...

Im Focus: Smarter window materials can control light and energy

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.

By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...

Im Focus: Simulations lead to design of near-frictionless material

Argonne scientists used Mira to identify and improve a new mechanism for eliminating friction, which fed into the development of a hybrid material that exhibited superlubricity at the macroscale for the first time. Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF) researchers helped enable the groundbreaking simulations by overcoming a performance bottleneck that doubled the speed of the team's code.

While reviewing the simulation results of a promising new lubricant material, Argonne researcher Sanket Deshmukh stumbled upon a phenomenon that had never been...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Euro Bio-inspired - International Conference and Exhibition on Bio-inspired Materials

23.07.2015 | Event News

Clash of Realities – International Conference on the Art, Technology and Theory of Digital Games

10.07.2015 | Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine in Leipzig: Last chance to submit abstracts until 2 July

25.06.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Intracellular microlasers could allow precise labeling of a trillion individual cells

30.07.2015 | Life Sciences

Real-time imaging of lung lesions during surgery helps localize tumors and improve precision

30.07.2015 | Health and Medicine

New study exposes negative effects of climate change on Antarctic fish

30.07.2015 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>