Study shows gender differentiation in Facebook communication

Posted on June 17, 2016

 

A new study, published in journal PLoS One, shows the differences in the way men and women communicate on social networking platform Facebook.

Differences in language between the genders has long been a topic of interest for several group of researchers, including sociolinguists and psychologists. As a result, there is a lot of academic literature on the subject showing that men and women communicate differently. This recent study analysed communication differences through the world’s largest social medium.

Researchers collated data from more than 68,000 users of the popular social site in order to explore the differences in what men and women talk about when using the site, as well as analysing how the two sets of people went about discussing their selected topics.

The participants in the study had an average age of 26, and they had to download an app that required permission to access status updates and messages. A minimum of 1,000 words across all updates was another criterion to be eligible to take part in the study.

In order to identify patterns in their data, the researchers used certain software, which was programmed to select and highlight certain words and then categorised them by subject.

The analysis showed that men tended to talk about impersonal ideas, with the government and sports teams being just two examples of this. The language used by this group centred around associations with games and combat, with popular and frequent words being detected including the likes of “win”, “lose”, “enemy”, and “battle”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the research also found that men tended to swear a lot more than women on the social platform.

This is a contrast to women, who used emotional and ‘supportive’ language, which involves use of words such as “super”, “wonderful” and “excited”. Another trait, which is the complete opposite to men, was that they tended to discuss topics personal to them, with family being one of the most recurring themes in Facebook statuses. Relationship descriptive terms were commonly used, including the likes of “sister”, “brother” and “daughter”.

Not all language use on Facebook differed between the two genders; both groups were found to use equally assertive language. Although the study picked up on specific patterns and tendencies, it must be noted that not all men and women adhere to them, and there is a lot of linguistic variability between the two genders.

Businesses using social media as an active marketing tool can use these types of studies to further appeal to their target audience, if market research suggests that the products and services they provide are of interest to one gender in particular. With this knowledge, businesses can tailor advertisements to include recurring themes, such as the element of competition, which was a language trait specific to men.

Operations Manager at Engage Web
Drawing from a broad pool of experience that ranges from university studies in English Language to his work as a medical receptionist in a busy GP practice, Alan fits right at home as Engage Web’s Operations Manager.
Alan Littler
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