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

Are you ready for the ultimate gin and gingerbread masterclass?

Lessons take place in a luxury spa, if that helps to seal the deal…

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Feb 2017

This is officially the best place to live in the UK

And, surprise surprise, it isn’t London…

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Feb 2017

This Is Us star asks viewers to reach out to lost loved ones

“Tomorrow is not promised”

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Feb 2017

Inside the bar where men aren't allowed to approach women

"If a gentleman is lucky enough to be approached by a lady, he speaks to her as if he would speak to his mother”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
22 Feb 2017

Everything you need to know about growing your own vegetables

(Even if you don't have loads of space)

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Feb 2017

Calling all vino fans: are you ready for red wine ice cream?

Ice cream and red wine, together at last…

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Feb 2017

Letters penned 100 years apart show unchanging attitude to abortion

"I'm in the family way again, and I'm nearly crazy..."

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Feb 2017

Woman opens up about having her grandmother as her bridesmaid

“She’s my best friend”

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Feb 2017

Artist captures how mental illness feels with sketches of houses

“It belongs to our lives and we must not stigmatise it”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Feb 2017

Pair cheese and wine like a pro with this incredible interactive map

Winchester Aged Gouda with a glass of Amarone della Valpolicella, anyone?

by Moya Crockett
21 Feb 2017