Via Zuska comes this study proporting to rebut the stereotype of women chatting more than men.
Alas, I find great fault with this study's methodology and conclusions. They spell out the obvious limitations in their study in the concluding paragraph.
"A potential limitation of our analysis is that all participants were university students. The resulting homogeneity in the samples with regard to sociodemographic characteristics may have affected our estimates of daily word usage. However, none of the samples provided support for the idea that women have substantially larger lexical budgets than men. Further, to the extent that sex differences in daily word use are assumed to be biologically based, evolved adaptations (3), they should be detectable among university students as much as in more diverse samples. We therefore conclude, on the basis of available empirical evidence, that the widespread and highly publicized stereotype about female talkativeness is unfounded. "
There are so many logical errors in this I don't know where to begin. The question they were investigating was whether women do or do not, in fact, talk more than men. The question was not whether women talk more than men due to a biologically based evolutionary adaptation. Further, even if this study did conclusively show the lack of any such adaptation, that does not refute the claim that women talk more than men per se. Thus, that final sentence above is a non sequitor.
There is also the issue of their interpretation of the stereotype. It has been my experience that one's perception of "who talks too much" is highly inversely correlated with one's interest in what is being said. And since men and women have different interests, and men for so long had more power to influence stereotypes, it seems reasonable to conclude men perceive women to talk too much because the men weren't very interested in what the women were saying. Even if the women were just as disinterested in what the men were saying, it wouldn't make much difference in the stereotype, because of the privledged status of men relative to women in society until very recently.
To make matters worse, because of the discrimination that went on against women for so long, particularly with regard to education, it seems hardly a stretch to suggest that the average woman was a little less interesting to listen to talk than the average man, again until very recently when the sociological disparities have narrowed or been eliminated entirely. Slaves in the old south were far more interested in the discussions the men had.
To put the finishing touch on my armchair sociology, it's been my experience that uneducated people do in fact talk more than educated people, which implies women would have historically talked more than men in the past, for all the same reasons enumerated above. This is in part due to the more frequent use of filler words and phrases like "like", "you know", "he said", etc., in the speech of the uneducated. Having to wade through that verbal clutter wears down one's audience, further adding to the perception that one talks too much.
In summary, this study dodges the plausible, and fairly obvious to me anyway, potential historical and sociological causes of the stereotype that women talk more than men. They equivocate on what "women talk more than men" means, focus on a very narrowly defined potential biological cause, and draw unwarranted conclusions from their arbitrarily limited data. I suggest they use this study as their first data point in another study on another stereotype: the one that says psychology researchers construct their experiments and interpret their data to fulfill those views to which they were predisposed.