Yesterday, I reported on research that exposed the surprising (not for me, but for some) truth that men are not naturally dogs who are, by nature, obsessed with sex. Apparently this is gender-stereotype busting week because a new study takes on yet another truism about the genders.
You have no doubt heard the pop-psych claim that women use something on the order of 3 million words a day and men use 6 (OK, I’m exaggerating–the actual claim was something like 20,000 vs 7,000 words–but you get my point). Despite the fact that everyone knows this is true, actual research has consistently shown this to be bunk. Men and women actually use about the same number of words each day (see here and here).
New research continues to shovel more dirt into the grave of this false claim. According to this most recent study, men and women tend to talk about the same overall, but men may talk more than women, or women more than men, depending upon the context.
The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports …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 U.S. banking firm wore the sociometers during 12 one-hour lunch breaks with no designated task.
They 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.
None of this is to suggest that there aren’t real differences between men and women, it’s just that those differences are subtler and more difficult to grasp than the too-easy functionalist differences (i.e, differences based on hobbies, habits and attitudes) that most people tend to gravitate toward. The truth is, men and women are similar in many ways when it comes to their actual performance on many different tasks. What men and women tend to differ on is the style and approach they take on the road to accomplishing those tasks. That’s why the Church says the differences between men and women are “complementary” as opposed to absolute. By approaching the various tasks of life from slightly different angles and perspectives, men and women can do a more complete job of something when they work together. This is just another reason why the Theology of the Body asserts that men and women are not made different from each other so much as they are made different for each other.
To learn more about how men and women can be better partners to one another and communicate more effectively with one another, check out For Better…FOREVER! A Catholic Guide to Lifelong Marriage. In that book, I explore how understanding the real, complementary, differences between men and women–and rejecting the false differences which are rooted in Original Sin– can help take you marriage to the next level. Discovering God’s plan for resolving the battle of the sexes can help you have the kind of marriage that is both a blessing to you and a light to the world!