By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers
A hot-off-the-press study shatters the myth that women talk more than men. Did you hear that men? We are not chatterboxes.
Although the more-than-likely over-funded, waste-of-taxpayer-money study is flawed because it was limited to college students, I’m inclined to believe it because, well, because I’m a female, and because I’ve been accused on a few rare occasions of talking too much, especially when in the company of certain males who shall remain nameless, OK with you Dad? How about you, Bernard?
This latest finding, conducted at the University of Arizona and published in a recent issue of the journal Science, concluded that when you actually count the words, which yes, they did do, (it doesn’t say which sex did the counting, though) there isn’t much difference between the sexes when it comes to talking. This is especially true when members of the female species have duct tape placed over their mouths. I suspect they may have done this to even the playing field, or perhaps they counted run-on words as one word. For example: “Iwasalllike” would count as only one word. This is an advanced conversational technique, which I suspect many males have not learned to master.
Despite a possible experimental design flaw and perhaps a larger than normal margin of error, and findings that were not statistically significant, as in a 546-word difference, numbers don’t lie. Women scored 16,215 words compared to men’s 15,669 words. Yes, women actually did talk more. But when you use all of these cool scientific formulas, which no one but researchers and graduate students can understand, the results were “not statistically significant.”
In other words, the difference was not big enough to show a statistically significant difference, and I’m sure the duct tape helped. So the conclusion, if you ignore the 500-plus words, was that there isn’t much difference between the sexes when it comes to talking.
In the study, microphones were placed on 396 college students for periods ranging from two to 10 days. Their conversations were sampled and they calculated how many words they used in a day. Out of fear of being talked to death by females, researchers didn’t actually set out to study talking habits between males and females. It was actually part of a bigger project to understand how people are affected when they talk about emotional experiences. They had the information on hand, however, and decided to look at results when they came across a magazine article, which asserted that women use an average of 20,000 words per day compared with 7,000 for men.
The research team leader, Matthias R. Mehl, noted that one previous study found that in workplaces, men talk more. I can believe that, especially if it’s a Monday or Tuesday morning during the NFL season.
In essence, though, the study, no matter how flawed it may be, dispels the urban myth that we of the female persuasion use three times as many words than men. But even if we did, which I’m sure we don’t, especially when duct tape is a factor, perhaps we’re just making up for lost time, lost years when we women were not allowed to speak, own cell phones or have talk shows.
A question that remains, however, is whether or not female researchers were involved, and if so, why didn’t they comment on the study?
Like I stated before, however, numbers don’t lie, especially when they are cleverly manipulated into statistically significant or rather, not significant formulas. Men talk just as much, or at least almost as much as women. What will researchers discover next? That men are just as emotional and touchy/feelie as women? You may be surprised. They may not even have to twist the numbers this time.
Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: