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Your gender influences the way you express yourself on Facebook

Women use warmer and more agreeable language than men on Facebook, finds a new study.

sex and relationships Updated: May 26, 2016 11:26 IST
Some of the words most commonly used by men on Facebook are freedom, liberty, win, lose, battle and enemy.
Some of the words most commonly used by men on Facebook are freedom, liberty, win, lose, battle and enemy.(Shutterstock)

Women use warmer and more agreeable language than men on Facebook, finds a new study.

Researchers did a computational analysis of the words used by over 65,000 consenting Facebook users in some 10 million messages.

Some of the most commonly words used by women include wonderful, happy, birthday, daughter, baby, excited and thankful.

Some of the words most commonly cited by men are freedom, liberty, win, lose, battle and enemy.

Read: We follow those on Facebook who are more popular than us: Study

Analysed by psychologists and computer scientists from Stony Brook University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Melbourne in Australia, the study found that additionally, algorithms of language use predicted one’s gender on Facebook 90 percent of the time.

The findings suggest gender influences the way people express themselves on Facebook.

“Looking at language in social media offers a fresh perspective on understanding gender differences,” said H.Andrew Schwartz, assistant professor of computer science at Stony Brook University.

The analysis automatically identified differences in the types of words used by women and men.

Some of the most commonly words used by women on Facebook include wonderful, happy, birthday, daughter, baby, excited and thankful. (Shutterstock)

Women mentioned friends, family and social life more often whereas men swore more, used angrier and argumentative language and discussed objects more than people.

On average, women used language that was characteristic of compassion and politeness while men were more hostile and impersonal.

Some findings illustrated nuances and differences in language by gender not previously revealed.

“We were able to explore the dimensions of warmness and assertiveness with a novel data-driven technique,” explained Schwartz.

Read: Signing up on another social media site? You may want to think again

While some previous work suggests men are generally more assertive, the language in Facebook did not reflect this, showing woman use slightly more assertive language than men.

In the analysis, the topics expressed via the Facebook language were rated for how affiliative (socially connected) and assertive they were.

“In many ways, the topics most used by women versus men are not surprising — they fit common gender stereotypes,” noted psychologist Dr Margaret Kern from University of Melbourne.

With such large-scale computational studies, generating thousands of statistical results, visualisation is key.

“This is a good example of visualisation helping us to see the bigger picture with complex data,” said lead author Dr Gregory Park, psychologist from University of Pennsylvania.

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