Women are more compassionate and polite on Facebook, while men use a hostile and impersonal language on the social networking site, a new study has found. The study analysing the language of 65,000 Facebook users also found, for the first time, that males and females used equally assertive language.
The words that women used on Facebook included wonderful, happy, birthday, daughter, baby, excited and thankful. Some of the words most commonly cited by men included freedom, liberty, win, lose, battle and enemy.
Researchers tackled the question of how men and women express themselves differently on social media. Computational analyses were used to automatically identify differences in the types of words used by women and men.
One of the study authors, Dr Margaret Kern from University of Melbourne said that algorithms are capable of correctly predicting one’s gender over 90 per cent of the time. “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,” she said.
“Our results demonstrate that gender is a complex, multi-faceted and fluid concept, but this study shows that self-reported gender does influence the way people express themselves on Facebook,” Kern said.
The topics were also rated for how affiliative (socially connective) and assertive they were. Like other studies, women used more affiliative language than men. However, in contrast to prior studies, men and women used equally assertive language.
Dr Andrew Schwartz from Stony Brook University in the US said that looking at language in social media offers a fresh perspective on understanding gender differences. “Here we were able to use a novel technique to explore psychological dimensions. While some previous work suggests men are more assertive, the language in Facebook didn’t reflect this,” he said.