July 5, 2007 — -- New research is about to blow up stereotypes of the strong, silent man and the overly chatty woman who nags him.
According to a study released today, men talk just as much as women — on average 16,000 words in a day.
Using digital voice recorders over an eight-year period, researchers at the University of Arizona studied how many words hundreds of American and Mexican college students spoke over several days. The students carried the voice-activated recorders for almost all of their waking hours, on average about 17 hours a day.
The study found that women spoke 16,215 words a day, while men spoke 15,669. Although women speak slightly more words than men, statistically, the difference is insignificant, according to Matthias R. Mehl, a psychology professor at the University of Arizona and the study's lead author.
"Men and women are very different in brain processes because there are different hormones floating around," Mehl said.
Despite those neural differences, according to Mehl, the amount that they communicate is the same.
Mehl was prompted to publish the results of his study after a statistic was widely reported by the media, including this network, in the fall: that men only speak 7,000 words a day, while women speak 20,000.
That figure took on a life of its own after a mention in the first edition of "The Female Brain," a best-selling book by Dr. Louann Brizendine, the director of the Women's Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California at San Francisco.
When Brizendine realized that the figure was based on unreliable data from a secondary source, she asked her publisher to remove it from the book, which is in its 13th printing, she told ABC News.
Despite the removal and the study, she says she hears this complaint often in her clinic, where she also does marriage counseling, from men who say their wives just won't stop talking.
But it's not that women necessarily want to talk more, according to Brizendine.