Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Warmer and friendlier, but more assertive too: study of 67,000 Facebook users reveals gender differences in language

facebook study gender words.jpg

We know that our Facebook status updates reveal a lot about our personalities, but now it appears what we post might influenced by our gender too.

A study of more than 67,000 users exploring “differences in language use across gender, affiliation, and assertiveness” found that women and men use language differently online: women's language is characterised as warm, friendly, compassionate and focused on people, while men's is more socially distant, disagreeable, and focused on objects.

Well, we are more likely to catch a yawn thanks to our caring natures, so probably makes sense.

However, while previous research has indicated assertiveness is more of a male trait, it was found that despite using generally more agreeable, more social language, women actually use slightly more assertive language than men do. Online, at least.

The first part of the research, by a team from US universities Stony Brook University and the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Melbourne, Australia, analysed 10 million messages from more than 52,000 Facebook users.

The team found that topics “most associated with self-identified female participants included friends, family, and social life, whereas topics most associated with self-identified male participants included swearing, anger, discussion of objects instead of people, and the use of argumentative language.”

facebook gender language study

"Stop trying to make me write things online about losing a football battle"

Some of the words linked to women included ‘wonderful’, ‘daughter’ and ‘thankful’, while men's included ‘freedom’, ‘liberty’, ‘lose’ and ‘enemy’.

The paper states: “The most strongly female-linked topics included words describing positive emotions (e.g., ‘excited’, ‘happy’, ‘<3’, ‘love’,), social relationships (e.g., ‘friends’, ‘family’, ‘sister’), and intensive adverbs (e.g., ‘sooo’, ‘sooooo’, ‘ridiculously’).

“Strongly male-linked topics included words related to politics (e.g., ‘government’, ‘tax’, ‘political’), sports and competition (e.g., ‘football’, ‘season’, ‘win’, ‘battle’), and specific interests or activities, such as shooting guns, playing musical instruments, or playing video games.”

Published in research journal PLOS ONE under the title Women are Warmer but No Less Assertive Than Men: Gender and Language on Facebook, the second part of the study concerned affiliation (social connection) and assertiveness.

Using a sample of 15,000 users, the team found “substantial gender differences”, writing: “Language used more by self-identified females was interpersonally warmer, more compassionate, polite, and – contrary to previous findings – slightly more assertive in their language use, whereas language used more by self-identified males was colder, more hostile, and impersonal.”

Co-author Dr. Margaret Kern said what we post online could mirror how we tend to “categorise” people in real life: “In many ways, topics most used by women versus men are not surprising – they fit common gender stereotypes.

“The computational methods let us make visible what the human mind does to automatically categorise people and things we encounter in our everyday lives.”

If you don't like being labelled and are now casting about for a new vocabulary, may we suggest some of these words...

Images: iStock

Related

woman.jpg

The heartwarming foreign words that have no direct English translation

iStock_000073919951_Medium.jpg

Shocking extent of misogyny on social media revealed in new study

iStock_000063187529_Large.jpg

Facebook launches UK initiative to help women start their own business

beyonce power pose.jpg

Want to do well at work? You’d better learn to stand like a man

sesame street large friendship group.jpg

The more friends you have, the better you cope with physical pain

alison_rt.jpg

Does your job dictate your make-up routine?

break up.jpg

Friends with your ex? Apparently you’re a psychopath

body image.jpg

Women with poor body image are more likely to take dangerous risks

Still-from-Suffragette-20-009.jpg

Revealed: the shocking extent of gender inequality in UK film industry

Comments

More

These are the alcoholic drinks least likely to give you a hangover

Or, how to make the Christmas party season a bit more bearable.

by Moya Crockett
05 Dec 2016

How it feels to be a woman in America right now

"There is a sense of impending doom"

02 Dec 2016

Viewers slam Eamonn Holmes for ‘sexist’ treatment of GBBO's Candice

“He’s making me so uncomfortable – poor Candice”

by Kayleigh Dray
02 Dec 2016

The 12 surprising health benefits of mulled wine

Mulled wine, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways…

by Kayleigh Dray
02 Dec 2016

Pensioner, 89, offered bar job after "stop me dying from boredom" ad

We love a story with a happy ending

by Kayleigh Dray
02 Dec 2016

Bake Off fans, you can now apply to be on Channel 4’s GBBO

On your marks, get set, baaaaake…

by Kayleigh Dray
02 Dec 2016

Inventor of new £5 note brands vegans “stupid” over animal fat debate

"It's stupid. It's absolutely stupid."

by Sarah Biddlecombe
02 Dec 2016

Baby it’s Cold Outside has been given a feminist makeover

The troubling Christmas song has been transformed into an epic consent anthem

by Kayleigh Dray
02 Dec 2016

You’d be more productive if you could work from a café, study finds

Tell your boss.

by Moya Crockett
02 Dec 2016

The best low-alcohol swaps for your favourite beers, wines and spirits

Time for a booze-not-booze?

by Amy Swales
01 Dec 2016