Men tend to use more abstract language than women

Men tend to use more abstract language than women, suggests new research that analyzed 600,000 blog posts and speeches by more than 1,000 Congress members. It found that women tend to speak about details and specifics, while men tend to speak about the bigger picture and ultimate purpose of action.

Over half of the speakers who used abstract language had already been elected to Congress before the study, according to the findings of sociologist Greg Carbin, who added that the study is intended to give policymakers a chance to make their speeches in a broader context.

“Interpreting speeches from expert speakers can help explain politically complex issues and helped craft the most sophisticated vision of best outcomes,” Carbin said. “By testing, however, whether abstract language was used to describe political speech from different perspectives, the results may be helpful in providing broader vision and more precise measures of success in our politics.”

The study, titled “Ibid vs. Segment: Using Segment-Specific Information to Measure Less Abstract Message,” was completed over the course of three different subjects — Congress members and non-Congress members from different political parties.

Researchers conducted the study by compiling 2,558 blog posts (1,248 in total) that were available on the Psychology Today website over a 13-week period, and using U.S. Census Bureau data that show a large percentage of the population in the United States are Native American. Many of the blog posts were part of a discussion of who is (or is not) an American.

Reasons for using abstract language, which can range from political quotes or background on the issues to particular answers given, were then analyzed. The authors found that language when used in terms of symbolism did correlate to political differences, with the use of spatial symbolism an important factor in determining political relationship.

“Geographical symbolism is clearly something that is used in politics,” Carbin said. “The use of abstract language in political speech can portray an idealism that is difficult to visualize. But a concept, when used effectively, can help connect perceived realities to common values.”

In addition to using spatial symbolism in download ebooks, which increases the audience’s emotional power to connect the tangible with the intangible, Carbin is concerned about the impact the use of abstract language has on the users of the text. This affects the sound and soundscape. Also, against the grain of abstract literature, using abstract language could inspire greater levels of energy and imagination.

“While abstract speech may make for greater clarity in the use of the words, its role as an emotional accelerator and advertising for a way of thinking is heightened,” Carbin said. “What we find is that it will appeal to a portion of society that has, if not wasted time, at least created valuable groups of mind in which to make better decisions.”

“Ibid vs. Segment” was published in the Journal of Political Economy. The research was supported by the Edgar and Holthaus Family Foundation at the University of Kentucky.

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