Male/Female Language Differences And Effects In Same-Sex And Mixed-Sex Dyads: The Gender-Linked Language Effect

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Ninety‐six university students (48 males, 48 females) were randomly assigned a partner (whom they did not know well), forming two dyad conditions: (a) same‐sex, and (b) mixed‐sex. The 48 dyads were audiotape‐recorded in 20‐minute problem solving interactions, from which 300‐word language samples were transcribed for analysis. In Study 1, 9 trained observers coded 12 language variables previously shown to distinguish male from female language use. Discriminant analysis results demonstrated that a weighted combination of 8 variables could differentiate male from female interactants: male indicators—interruptions, directives, and conjunctions/ fillers begin sentence; female indicators—questions, justifiers, intensive adverbs, personal pronouns, and adverbials begin sentence. An analysis of variance of individuals’ gender discriminant function scores showed greater differences in gender‐linked language behavior in same‐sex than in mixed‐sex dyads. In Study 2, 231 naive observers rated the 96 interactants, using the Speech Dialect Attitudinal Scale. MANOVA results showed that in same‐sex dyads, female interactants were rated higher on Socio‐Intellectual Status and Aesthetic Quality, but no gender difference was found on Dynamism. However, in mixed‐sex dyads, men were rated higher on Aesthetic Quality, whereas women were rated higher on Dynamism. Taken together, the analyses of the objective language data and the subjective attributional data provide partial support for the Gender‐Linked Language Effect in same‐sex dyads and for the attenuation of that effect in mixed‐sex dyads.




Mulac, A., Wiemann, J. M., Gibson, T. W., & Widenmann, S. J. (1988). Male/Female Language Differences And Effects In Same-Sex And Mixed-Sex Dyads: The Gender-Linked Language Effect. Communication Monographs, 55(4), 315–335.

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