Applied Psycholinguistics


Speaker sex and perceived apportionment of talk

Anne Cutlera1 c1 and Donia R. Scotta2

a1 MRC Applied Psychology Unit

a2 University of Sussex


It is a widely held belief that women talk more than men; but experimental evidence has suggested that this belief is mistaken. The present study investigated whether listener bias contributes to this mistake. Dialogues were recorded in mixed-sex and single-sex versions, and male and female listeners judged the proportions of talk contributed to the dialogues by each participant. Female contributions to mixed-sex dialogues were rated as greater than male contributions by both male and female listeners. Female contributions were more likely to be overestimated when they were speaking a dialogue part perceived as probably female than when they were speaking a dialogue part perceived as probably male. It is suggested that the misestimates are due to a complex of factors that may involve both perceptual effects such as misjudgment of rates of speech and sociological effects such as attitudes to social roles and perception of power relations.


c1 Anne Cutler, MRC Applied Psychology Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF, England