Do women talk more than men?

This is not a back-handed slam. I also know not everyone (male or female) might be prone to doing so. Back to my question, maybe I just notice “wordy” women than men. Don’t think so, though.

Sorry, I wasn’t listening. I was watching the game on TV.

Did you say something?


Since this is GQ rather than IMHO, it will be preferable to provide links to scientific studies of the relative verbosity of women vs men, rather than anecdotes about what a chatterbox your grandmother (or grandfather) is.

General Questions Moderator


Seriously, it is well established that females have more sophisticated and abstract language skills than males do an average.


Gawd, my ears have tired at times.

This study done in 2007 claims men talk more.

this article says yes, women talk more. The study was done by a woman, in case you care.

Also, recall the jokes about “women’s logic”. If you are unable and/or unwilling to explain what you want to say in clear and logical terms, you end up babbling endlessly, often ignoring what the interlocutor is saying. And that’s not just hypothetical, I am sure I am not the only one to have been on the receiving end of such chitchat.

Although the headline refers to a study, the actual article is about a book – though it manages to get both the book’s title and the author’s name wrong. Any actual study which might have been the source of Dr Brizendine’s figures appears to be strangely elusive, and both her data and her conclusions have been strongly criticised by other scientists, particularly linguist Mark Liberman (Here, here, and in several other posts, listed (in part) here.).

The bottom line appears to be that what science there is on this shows little, if any, difference between the sexes in the amount of talkativeness, and certainly nothing significant. Dr Brizendine has since acknowledged that some of her figures are wrong.

A study by Mehl et al. (2007, .pdf) which digitally recorded the speech patterns of 396 participants (210 women, 186 men), found no statistically significant degree of difference in their average word count. The study concluded that the stereotype was unfounded.

It’s a good rule of thumb to regard any ‘science’ article printed in The Daily Mail with a very high degree of skepticism, to the point of regarding it as necessarily wrong unless shown otherwise. The paper is the most frequent media contributor to Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science column.

One of the chapters in the book Language Myths deals with this question. Chapter author Janet Holmes explains that although the idea that women talk more than men is widespread throughout the world, research on the subject shows that in mixed-sex groups men talk more than women. Few studies have examined private, informal conversations, but there seems to be less of a difference between the sexes in these situations.

Holmes suggests a few reasons why women might wrongly be perceived as being the chattier sex, such as women’s contributions to a conversation being considered unimportant or cultural beliefs that silence is a virtue for women. If a listener believes that women don’t have anything important to say or that the ideal woman is a quiet one, then even a woman who speaks less than men might be seen as talking “too much”.

Lamia beat me to it. I came in to say (although sans cite) that women talk more than men amongst themselves; but when men and women are talking together, men talk more.