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mattbrowne's avatar

What is your explanation why women might talk several times as much as men?

Asked by mattbrowne (31600points) May 12th, 2009

From Daily Mail Online: It’s something one half of the population has long suspected – and the other half always vocally denied. Women really do talk more than men. In fact, women talk almost three times as much as men, with the average woman chalking up 20,000 words in a day – 13,000 more than the average man. Women also speak more quickly, devote more brainpower to chit-chat – and actually get a buzz out of hearing their own voices, a new book suggests.

The book – written by a female psychiatrist – says that inherent differences between the male and female brain explain why women are naturally more talkative than men. In The Female Mind, Dr Luan Brizendine says women devote more brain cells to talking than men. And, if that wasn’t enough, the simple act of talking triggers a flood of brain chemicals which give women a rush similar to that felt by heroin addicts when they get a high. Dr Brizendine, a self-proclaimed feminist, says the differences can be traced back to the womb, where the sex hormone testosterone moulds the developing male brain. The areas responsible for communication, emotion and memory are all pared back the unborn baby boy. The result is that boys – and men – chat less than their female counterparts and struggle to express their emotions to the same extent.

“Women have an eight-lane superhighway for processing emotion, while men have a small country road,” said Dr Brizendine, who runs a female “mood and hormone” clinic in San Francisco. There are, however, advantages to being the strong, silent type. Dr Brizendine explains that testosterone also reduces the size of the section of the brain involved in hearing – allowing men to become “deaf” to the most logical of arguments put forward by their wives and girlfriends. But what the male brain may lack in conversation and emotion, they more than make up with in their ability to think about sex. Dr Brizendine says the brain’s “sex processor” – the areas responsible for sexual thoughts – is twice as big as in men than in women, perhaps explaining why men are stereotyped as having sex on the mind. Or, to put it another way, men have an international airport for dealing with thoughts about sex, “where women have an airfield nearby that lands small and private planes”. Studies have shown that while a man will think about sex every 52 seconds, the subject tends to cross women’s minds just once a day, the University of California psychiatrist says. Dr Brizendine, whose book is based on her own clinical work and analyzes of more than 1,000 scientific studies, added: “There is no unisex brain. Girls arrive already wired as girls, and boys arrive already wired as boys. Their brains are different by the time they’re born, and their brains are what drive their impulses, values and their very reality. I know it is not politically correct to say this but I’ve been torn for years between my politics and what science is telling us. I believe women actually perceive the world differently from men. If women attend to those differences they can make better decisions about how to manage their lives.”

Other scientists, however, are sceptical about the effects of testosterone on the brain and say many of the differences between the male and female personality can be explained by social conditioning, with a child’s upbringing greatly influencing their character.

What are your observations?

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21 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’m with the ‘other’ scientists

dynamicduo's avatar

My observations are that indeed, women talk more than men. But it’s because both sexes (grossly generalizing of course) view communication differently. And it’s not just limited to the sexes, I think it’s related to emotions in general, thus a man can be emotional just like a woman can be non emotional, and this may correlate in the amount of chatting they do. Much of below’s reference is discussion with my partner and people in my life, so nothing academic here.

Women communicate to express emotions, to bond, to become closer, to relate with one another and develop the relationship. Communication for women (in my experiences) does not have to have a point or a need, nothing has to come out of the communicating. I can talk with a friend about how my day went and she talks to me about hers, we’re not solving a problem, we’re just relating to our world and becoming closer as a result.

Men seem to view communication as having a purpose and an intent. To illustrate, when I ask my male partner about how his day was, he says “OK” and nothing more, because there is nothing that needs solving or resolving. When I talk to him about my day, say someone had a disagreement with me, he will interject trying to “solve” the issue, even though I am not attempting to solve it at all. He does this because “why else would you be telling me about this, unless there was a problem to be solved?” I think a possible reason for this is that men may bond more while accomplishing or doing something in comparison to bonding while talking and expressing emotions.

As I say, this is a huge generalization. I’ve seen men who love to communicate, just as much as men who hate to. I do believe it’s closely related to how one views and interprets/adopts their emotions. My male partner is not very emotional, for instance. I am very emotional and I find that talking allows me to express and thus relieve my emotions, which is not the same as he feels. Another example is my father. He was not very emotional as I was growing up. During the past years though, he has become more in touch with his emotions (as well as his mortality, life, and health), and as such he has increasingly vocalized his emotions in a similar way as I and many females do. Perhaps in his case it could be a testosterone issue, however he’s a very healthy man (his current health state is his best health in his 50+ life). I think it’s because he’s more in tune with his thoughts and feelings, as one of the triggers for his change could have been that I moved out and began living on my own.

morphail's avatar

This is a myth. There is no evidence for this 20,000-vs.-7,000-words-per-day claim, in Brizendine’s book or anywhere else. Actual studies find that men and woman are equally talkative.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

There have been studies on this. One study I read revealed that in a controlled environment with equal numbers of men and women that the men talked more and when asked, the majority of men in the study felt as though they didn’t get to talk enough.

qualitycontrol's avatar

Why would you rely on a person with a bias opinion to present the “facts”? The author of the book is a feminist. “All men are dirty, angry sex mongers who think about sex every 52 seconds and are deaf to women’s most logical arguments because their brains are formed that way”. Give me a break! We have lives too, ya know? If I thought about sex every 52 seconds I would never get any work done (or be able to leave the house). Also, I know women who talk/think about sex as much men do, sometimes more. Their private air field isn’t as private as Dr. Brizendine makes it out to be. And if women have an “eight lane super highway” for processing emotion, then how can they possibly be as logical as Dr. B says? I thought men had more logical brains and women more emotional? Her observations seem to be contradictory here. I smell a feminist trying to sell as many books to women as possible! I’m sorry but instead of making up stories to empower women, write a book about what makes them special in this world.

MrKnowItAll's avatar

Women do talk more. It’s because guys really don’t listen, and generally, have to hear something 5 or 6 times before it has an effect. Some people call it Nagging.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@qualitycontrol I’m sorry but that statement DOES NOT make the author a feminist – if anything it only makes her sound dumb

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MrKnowItAll generalization, obviously

elijah's avatar

Women have to talk more because we have to give directions to men and children over and over.

qualitycontrol's avatar

@simone de beauvoir: ”Dr Brizendine, a self-proclaimed feminist, says the differences can be traced back to the womb, where the sex hormone testosterone moulds the developing male brain. The areas responsible for communication, emotion and memory are all pared back the unborn baby boy. The result is that boys – and men – chat less than their female counterparts and struggle to express their emotions to the same extent.”

read the post, it says she is a feminist lol

Supacase's avatar

I don’t know about in general, but I definitely talk more than my husband. He doesn’t want to discuss things. In fact, I thought for a long time that he just didn’t think about things other than work and a bit about family at all. He surprised me with a fairly deep perspective on religion and I realized he’s processing things up there, but he doesn’t share a lot. I think it is because his work is internally processed without a lot of discussion or input from others and that has become his SOP.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@qualitycontrol Oh I did – that still doesn’t mean she is one or that you calling her one is an explanation as to why she says what she says

nikipedia's avatar

@morphail is correct. This myth has been debunked—repeatedly.

oratio's avatar

You know, suggesting that there are physical and/or functional differences between a female and male brain takes some guts. I think I would rather swim bleeding in shark rich waters than go down that road. I suspect she probably has a secret address by now.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@oratio stupidity doesn’t take guts, it takes stupidity

oratio's avatar

Or that.

mattbrowne's avatar

@elijah – Giving directions to men? Not in a car in uncharted territory and without GPS navigation. At least in my experience. I deal with the map. My wife drives the car. A perfect division of labor and win-win situation.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I’m with the “other” scientists. Regardless of whether or not women talk more than men, this does not necessarily point to an inherent difference between the sexes. If men and women are raised differently, according to each society, men and women will typically turn out how they were raised to be – thus, it is social conditioning. We can see this take place in many different forms, among many different societies. As an example, there are societies in the world where the typical male holds what is known in the Western world as an inherent female demeanor (nurturing, non-violent, emotional, prone to gossip, etc) and the women hold what is known as the inherent male demeanor (aggressive, prone to violence, bread winners, etc.) in the Western world.
If these male and female traits were truly biological, no difference between sex roles would be found anywhere in the world.

In the Western world, it is acceptable for women to talk and gossip more than men, which is probably also why women are typically better at English as a subject, compared to men. If men were encouraged to communicate more in all aspects (as women are), in all likelihood – the gap would disappear.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@DrasticDreamer exactly
thanks for writing that
i get so exhausted writing that very thing over and over lol

YARNLADY's avatar

My Mother said I was born talking and couldn’t help myself. I found out later it’s called OCD. This video explains it.

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