This blog is a random collection of information, partly in support of my quotations web site. Other topics include wine, military news, economics, history, libertarianism, and other random things which happen to strike my fancy. Backup site is at (if there are no posts showing, hit the backup blog for explanation). Comments have been turned off, as the spam was getting too much to handle. Comments can be emailed to me for posting.

December 13, 2006

Talking, talking, talking

One of the things that "everyone knows" is that women talk more than men. Certainly the perception is very common, but apparently the numbers tell a different story:

Louann Brizendine's book The Female Brain, published last August, featured a number of striking quantitative assertions about sex differences in communication. The jacket blurb claimed "A woman uses about 20,000 words per day while a man uses about 7,000", while the text (p. 14) gave the same numbers in the other order: "Men use about seven thousand words per day. Women use about twenty thousand." Dr. Brizendine gives a set of references in her end-notes, but none of them support those numbers. In fact, no study of any sort has ever measured any numbers at all like these, as far as I've been able to find.

What are the facts about sex and talkativeness? There's an enormous amount of individual variation, and each individual talks more or less depending on mood and context. Against this background of variation, many studies have measured how much women talk, on average, compared to how much men talk, on average. The differences that they find between men and women as groups have always been small compared to the differences among men as individuals or among women as individuals. And more often than not, these small group differences actually show men talking a bit more than women do.

Posted by Nicholas at December 13, 2006 11:47 AM

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