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Ladies, relax: you're not really the chattier sex

Ladies, next time you are accused of being more talkative than men, show them this study result. Researchers say that the generic notion that women are more talkative than men depends on the context.

sex and relationships Updated: Jul 16, 2014 17:48 IST
Research,Northeastern University,David Lazer

The generic notion that women are more talkative than men was tested by researchers, who found that it depended on the context.

Northeastern University professor David Lazer took a different approach to determine the belief by using so-called 'sociometers', which are wearable devices roughly the size of smart phones that collect real-time data about the user's social interactions. Lazer's team was able to tease out a more accurate picture of the talkative-woman stereotype, and found that context plays a large role.

Also see: Both men and women are talkative

For their study, the research team provided a group of men and women with sociometers and split them in two different social settings for a total of 12 hours. In the first setting, master's degree candidates were asked to complete an individual project, about which they were free to converse with one another for the duration of a 12-hour day. In the second setting, employees at a call-center in a major US banking firm wore the sociometers during 12 one-hour lunch breaks with no designated task.

It was found that women were only slightly more likely than men to engage in conversations in the lunch break setting, both in terms of long and short duration talks. In the academic setting, in which conversations likely indicated collaboration around the task, women were much more likely to engage in long conversations than men. That effect was true for shorter conversations, too, but to a lesser degree. These findings were limited to small groups of talkers. When the groups consisted of six or more participants, it was men who did the most talking.

Lazer said that the setting where women worked together, saw them talking more, which was a very particular scenario as and when people work together they interact and tend to talk more. The real story here was the interplay between the setting and gender which created this difference.

The research is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

First Published: Jul 16, 2014 16:55 IST