Friday, July 06, 2007

Say What? By Christie

The truth is, women only speak 546 more words per day than men. This is the conclusion of an article printed today in the journal Science

After years of the popular idea (urban legend?) that women talk way more than men, two researchers from universities in Texas and Arizona conducted their own study and discovered that when they placed microphones on 396 college students for periods ranging from two to 10 days, and then sampled their conversations and calculated how many words they used in the course of a day that the score was:

Women, 16,215. Men, 15,669.

These two researchers, Matthias R. Mehl, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, and James W. Pennebaker, chairman of the psychology department at the University of Texas, seem to feel they’ve debunked the idea that women are more talkative than men. While they realize their study looked into one age group only, these scientists think that it will prove true across other age groups as well.

Oh-kay.

Anyone care to enlighten our buddies Matt and Jim about the nuances here? There's "talk" and then there's talk. I live with three males (husband and two sons). I know the kinds of conversations they have. “I call the last frozen burrito.” “Who ate all the Bagel Bites?” “Mom, where’d you put the peanut butter?” “Don’t I have any clean socks?”

I recently asked Son 1 about the college plans of his best friend, with whom he spends hours and hours. He looked at me blankly, even though that had been the topic of conversation around our home for months. I said, disbelieving, “Well, what do you talk about?” The Wii game they’re playing. Where they want to eat. If their favorite server (the older lady who gives them double servings for free) at Panda Express works on Wednesdays. Who’s going to win at their next Texas Hold ‘Em Night.

So, here’s what I want to say to my academic friends, Matt and Jim. Um, when we think “more” talking, we mean quality talking. Get it? On the 4th I went to a party where the guest list was my husband’s classic rock ‘n roll band and their spouses. The guys jammed. Loudly. The women, who don’t all know each other that well, talked about boob jobs, educating our children, the difficulties in creating our own separate lives beyond motherhood (the hostess is participating in a relay swim at the end of the month between Catalina Island and Long Beach—open Pacific waters!). The guys were singing “dom dom dom, dom be doobie, dom dom dom, dom be doobie…” (“Come Go With Me,” the Del Vikings.) Well, you get the picture.

So, am I all wet? In your opinion do women get to the heart of the matter much more easily (and often?) than men? (Hey, and within only 546 more words a day!)

11 comments:

Debra Dixon said...

I'll address this to our friends Matt and Jim...

Women use 16,215 words that contain content beyond the mere location of objects and people. Women use 16,215 words to discuss complex concepts within the context of our lives.

It's not how many words men use versus the number of words women use. It's the command of the language to express emotion, thought and to connect with the world around us that makes women "stronger" talkers than men.

Here, let me sum up in a way that Matt and Jim will understand--

"Duh."

Cindy Gerard said...

I'll have to go with Estrogen on this one. Yes, yes, yes, women generally get to the heart of the matter. Men generally get to the meat of the matter. As in what's for dinner?
But, they do surprise us from time to time. Bless them.

Christie Ridgway said...

::snicker:: Deb!

While they do surprise us at times, Cindy, I did find it funny that the focus was on "more" or "less." That seems like such a guy way of looking at things!

Debra Dixon said...

Christie-- You know men. They have to whip 'em out and measure 'em. WORDS. I'm talking about words. Geez!

flip said...

I hate some conversations with my husband. It is over there! Where? By that thing!!!! What thing? This earns me a frustrated look....But this is not true with little boy...every little boy that I have ever known has wanted to tell me in excruciating detail about every scene in the Star Wars, Adam Sandler, or any other movie that he loved.

flip said...

I hate some conversations with my husband. It is over there! Where? By that thing!!!! What thing? This earns me a frustrated look....But this is not true with little boy...every little boy that I have ever known has wanted to tell me in excruciating detail about every scene in the Star Wars, Adam Sandler, or any other movie that he loved.

byrdloves2read said...

When I was watching the story about this on TV, I turned to my husband and said "Yeah, but men don't do all that talking with WOMEN!"

Of course, y'all are right about the text of the discussions as well.

I must say that I've had some stimulating discussions with men "one on one" but they never centered on feelings. But get men in a group and (throwing hands in the air) "fugetaboutit."

Christie Ridgway said...

byrdloves2read: Oh, yeah. I hadn't even thought of that angle too. That they're talking to each other and not us.

flip: My boys are like that too about storylines. Funny, huh? Which reminds me, is it just me, or does anyone else want to see the Transformers movie? I'm going to try to get Son 1 to see it with me this weekend.

Betina Krahn said...

Christie, quite a topic. And I'm with you on the whole male "measure it" way of examining "talk." Very male.

But I have to say, they ignored totally the matter of content. I have two sons who regularly talk me into a stupor. . . on "their" topics: politics, car trouble, foreign policy, their kids' futures, the latest technology and gadgets, fishing-hunting-sports gear, their jobs, the stupidity of road construction. . . the list goes on and on. Which is what they do. . . on their topics.

They even talk-- occasionally and with bewilderment-- about women and relationships.

It's like you stumble across the trigger and they're off. My guys are in their late 20's now and I've never LISTENED so much in my life!

Playground Monitor said...

They have to whip 'em out and measure 'em. And the one area where men brag about having the smallest is cell phones. :grin:

I get the "over there" and "thing" conversations with the DH too. The man graduated from college and is a professional. Can he not give specific directions and call an object by its name?

Marilyn

Christie Ridgway said...

Marilyn: Oh yeah, isn't that hysterical? Cars gotta be BIG and cell phones small. Somebody need to analyze that. Hmm...men want a big presence, but want to make their needs of communication tiny?

Something like that...