Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin are talking about the long-held stereotype that women talk more than men. The psychology researchers, who published their findings in the July 2007 issue of Science, say that women and men both use an average of 16,000 words each day.
"Although many people believe the stereotypes of females as talkative and males as reticent, there is no large-scale study that systematically has recorded the natural conversations of large groups of people for extended periods of time,” says James W. Pennebaker, chairman of the Psychology Department and co-author of the study.
The UT study changes that. Researchers used an electronically activated recorder to digitally record people’s conversations for an eight-year period. The device, which participants had no control over, automatically recorded for 30 seconds every 12.5 minutes. Data from nearly 400 university students in the United States and Mexico was collected and transcribed.
Matthias Mehl, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, was the lead author of the study. In 2004, he earned a doctorate in psychology from The University of Texas at Austin, where he conducted the research with Pennebaker, Richard Slatcher, and Nairán Ramírez-Esparza.