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Dev Psychol. 2004 Nov;40(6):993-1027.

A meta-analytic review of gender variations in children's language use: talkativeness, affiliative speech, and assertive speech.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, USA.


Three sets of meta-analyses examined gender effects on children's language use. Each set of analyses considered an aspect of speech that is considered to be gender typed: talkativeness, affiliative speech, and assertive speech. Statistically significant average effect sizes were obtained with all three language constructs. On average, girls were slightly more talkative and used more affiliative speech than did boys, whereas boys used more assertive speech than did girls. However, the average effect sizes were either negligible (talkativeness, d=0.11; assertive speech, d=0.11) or small (affiliative speech, d=0.26). Larger effect sizes were indicated for some language constructs depending on either the operational definition of the language measure, the method of recording, the child's age level, the interaction partner (adult or peer), group size, gender composition, observational setting, or type of activity. The results are interpreted in relation to social-developmental and social-constructionist approaches to gender; these views are presented as complementary--rather than competing--meta-theoretical viewpoints.

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