Sex Roles

, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp 545–559 | Cite as

Women's language: Uncertainty or interpersonal sensitivity and emotionality?

  • Julie R. McMillan
  • A. Kay Clifton
  • Diane McGrath
  • Wanda S. Gale


Six differences in linguistic behavior in same-sex and mixed-sex problem-solving groups were explored. Small groups of all women, all men, and mixed sex were run and videotaped. Linguistic behavior was assessed through a content analysis of four syntactic categories: intensifiers, modal constructions, tag questions, and imperative constructions in question form. Support was found for the hypothesis of Key (1975) and Lakoff (1975) that women, as compared with men, use more linguistic categories that connote uncertainty. Support was also found for these authors' hypotheses that (1) women use more linguistic forms that connote uncertainty when men are present than when men are absent, and (2) men are more likely to interrupt women than women are likely to interrupt men. The results are discussed from the perspectives of women's role (supportive behavior and minority status) and women's culture (interpersonal sensitivity and emotionality).


Small Group Social Psychology Content Analysis Minority Status Supportive Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie R. McMillan
    • 1
  • A. Kay Clifton
    • 1
  • Diane McGrath
    • 1
  • Wanda S. Gale
    • 1
  1. 1.Illinois State UniversityNormal

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