December 17, 2003

Women and discourse markers

I just recently came across a study by M. R. Mehl and J. W. Pennebaker ("The sounds of social life: a psychometric analysis of students' daily social environments and natural conversations", manuscript, 2002; findings summarized in J. W. Pennebaker, M. R. Mehl and K. G. Niederhoffer [2003], "Psychological aspects of natural language use: our words, our selves", Annual Review of Psychology, 54:547-77), where the authors rigged up 52 University of Texas undergraduates with electronically activated recorders and found that (a) males use 4 times more swearwords than women, (b) women use more discourse markers, (c) women use more first-person pronouns, and (d) women use more modals.

I wanted to ask LanguageLoggers what they think of this. Any explanations?

Posted by Norma Mendoza-Denton at December 17, 2003 05:36 PM