It’s no secret that men and women communicate differently, especially on social media. A new study found that on Facebook, women express themselves more politely, while men tend to come off as more hostile. The study, titled "Women Are Warmer but No Less Assertive Than Men: Gender and Language on Facebook," also found that while there are differences between the way men and women speak on Facebook, they do use equally assertive language.
By analyzing 10 million posts from 65,000 Facebook users, a team of researchers determined that women use words that focus on things like family and social life. Those words include birthday, daughter, baby, thankful, excited, and happy. Men meanwhile, seem to favor words that are related to politics and sports, words like freedom, liberty, win, lose, battle, and enemy.
"We found that women mentioned friends, family and social life more often, whereas men swore more, used angrier and argumentative language and discussed objects more than people," said the University of Melbourne’s Dr. Margaret Kern, one of authors of the study. "Our results demonstrate that gender is a complex, multifaceted, and fluid concept, but this study shows that self-reported gender does influence the way people express themselves on Facebook."
The findings on assertiveness were surprising, according to the study’s authors. By comparing their study to prior studies on the behavioral differences between men and women, the researchers subverted common beliefs that men are more assertive than women.
Kern suggests that women using more assertive language on Facebook are a direct reflection of a generation that uses social media frequently. "Those conversations have shifted over time," she added. "On Facebook, people are friends. They're not talking up or down to each other."
Feel empowered with a copy of Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, and let us know if you feel more assertive on Facebook.