The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Basanti, men can match you
- Word for word, women lose motormouth monopoly

New Delhi, July 5: Sholay’s Basanti might have been an attempt to portray the quintessential garrulous woman, but it turns out that the widespread perception of women being more talkative than men has no scientific basis.

Research by US psychologists challenges the stereotype that women talk more than men.

Their study tracked daily conversations of university students and found that both men and women speak around 16,000 words a day.

The findings, to be published in the US journal Science tomorrow, refute what the researchers said is the “deeply ingrained” notion of female talkativeness that has somehow even been promoted by other scientists.

Last year, in her book titled The Female Brain, neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine from the University of California had said a woman uses about 20,000 words a day while a man uses about 7,000. Now psychologists Matthias Mehl at the University of Arizona and his colleagues who conducted studies for over six years found that women spoke a daily average of 16,215 words during a 17-hour waking period, while for men it was 15,699 words.

The small difference is not statistically significant at all, the scientists said.

“What’s a 500-word difference compared to the 45,000-word difference between the most talkative and least talkative persons'” Mehl asked. The most talkative man used around 47,000 words, but the least talkative barely uttered 500 a day.

The study involved college students in the US and Mexico, so scientists cannot be sure that these findings will apply to other age groups and cultures elsewhere.

“But talking is a natural human behaviour, so we could expect to find similar results in the same age groups in even other cultures,” said James Pennebaker, a psychologist and team member at the University of Texas. Pennebaker told The Telegraph that another study has revealed differences in what men and women talk about. This might help explain why women are generally perceived as more talkative than men, he said.

“Women usually talk about other people, while men appear to talk more about objects and events,” Pennebaker said. Listeners tend to recall conversations about people than about things or events. So women would be viewed as more talkative.

The psychologists used electronically activated recorders that tracked the routine conversation of nearly 400 US and Mexican students throughout the day. The participants weren’t aware when the recorder was on or off.

Their findings were clear -- men talk as much as women. It may be time to discard the notion that women are gabbier than men. Basanti in Sholay -- and the countless other depictions and perceptions -- might be an idea sans science.

Email This Page