Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | 1,110 day ago

Women Are More Likely To Be Interrupted Than Men Says New Study

The Debrief: And it's not only men interrupting women. Both sexes will butt in when a woman's talking..

We really want to tell you something in this news story but you've got to let us get to the end of it, alright? Because a recent study found that both men and women are more likely to interrupt someone they're talking to if they're female.

Adrienne Hancock, a researcher at the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at George Washington University and MSc student Benjamin Rubin ran a study where they got 20 men and 20 women to have conversations with each other. The volunteers were told to talk about both gender-neutral and more gender-specific topics (think, mobile phone use and reality TV).

After transcribing the conversations, Hancock and Rubin sat down and worked out the difference between the two sexes speech patterns. Although previous studies have found that women are more likely to qualify their sentences with undercutting statements (such as 'sort of' and 'probably'), use hyperbole (such as 'very' and 'extremely') and add on quasi-rhetorical questions (including, 'It's hot today, isn't it?') to sentences to seek approval, Hancock and Rubin found very little difference between the speech patterns of men and women.

However, the difference lay in the way people responded to women. During conversations with women, both sexes interrupted women far more. In the three-minute chats, women, on average, interrupted men just once. But they would interrupt fellow women 2.8 times. And men would interrupt other men twice, but would interrupt women 2.6 times.

The research also found that when talking to women, participants of both sexes would use more dependent clauses, anticipating how the woman would speak. Dependent clauses, by the way, are little add-ons to sentences that just wouldn't work on their own, such as 'since I don't have enough money', 'before the food gets cold' and 'If you can work Sundays' - they all depend on something else being said.

'There is something called "communication accommodation", where you speak like the other person in order to facilitate the interaction or feel close to that person,' Hancock explained in the study, which appears in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology. 'It's possible that speakers had a stereotype that women have a more elaborate style of speaking, so they tried to modify their own language to match that.'

Interesting, right? It'd be fascinating to find out why we think it's OK to interrupt women. Is it because we all think women are more conversational? Is it because we're not used to women giving speeches? Or is it because we just directly don't respect what women have to say? Whatever the reason, let's all make a little effort to not interrupt one another. It might just be harder than you think.

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Picture: Getty

Tags: Science Says