Do Women Really Talk More Than Men?

Everyone has something on their mind, which means everyone has something to say — yes, even the "quiet ones" who seem to do unusual amounts of listening in social situations. The stereotype might be that women gather and the conversation flies. But is that true, or is it just a social perception? Well, it actually might be. According to numerous studies performed by experts, the average woman speaks about 20,000 words per day, whereas the average man lingers around 7,000 words per day. In effect, a woman could wind up speaking up to 4.7 million more words each year than her male counterpart (via Mental Floss).

Whether we're talking quality of words or quantity, it's become pretty apparent that women have more to say on a daily basis than men. There are plenty of socio-normative reasons one might summon to try and explain this phenomenon, but the fact of the matter is that it boils down to brain chemistry. Yes, there is a science behind it all that professionals in both linguistic and cognitive fields have established.

Let's talk about talking

There's a protein in the brain called FOXp2, which is essentially responsible for cognitive functions relating to speech and language development (per Medline Plus at the National Library of Medicine). Researcher Margaret McCarthy commissioned a team of psychologists and neuroscientists to help her identify the role FOXp2 plays in the human female brain and how it relates to their speech patterns. Like other rigorous studies, experiments began with lab rats. It was discovered that male rats have a higher naturally occurring amount of FOXp2 in their brains, which manifests itself in the form of elevated vocalization (significantly more than female rats). After scientists reduced the amount of FOXp2 male rats would otherwise develop, they found that the babies had far less to squeak about (via Mental Floss).

A corresponding study was performed when researchers tested FOXp2 levels in the brains of 10 children between ages 3 and 5. Their findings determined that the girls had approximately 30% more of the protein located in a "brain area key to language" than the boys did. Therefore, it was safe to assume that increased FOXp2 levels are more or less directly correlated with accelerated speech patterns. "We can't say that this is the end-all-be-all reasoning," says researcher Mike Bowers. "but it is one of the first avenues with which we can start to explore why women tend to be more verbal than men" (per Mental Floss).