Psychology 409b May 1, 2006

Outline of Oral Presentation 3

By Skip Saito


Tannen, Deborah. Gender & Discourse.  New York: Oxford University Press. 1994, (pages 68-77).


Instructions for this Activity are found at:

Instructor: Dr. Leon James


I.                      Gender and Discourse: Cultural Variation

a.        Cooperative conversation styles

                                                                               i.       It is the idea that women are more comfortable talking when there is more than one voice going at once

b.       According to Tannen, most people agree that men dominate women and that women are at a social & cultural disadvantage.

                                                                               i.       Men interrupt women to display dominance

                                                                                 ii.       Men use interruption to silence women

1.       When men interrupt women, it is seen as dominant, powerful

2.       When women interrupt it is seen as pushy, aggressive, inconsiderately noisy

II.                   Interview with Michelle

a.        Agree with both ideas

                                                                               i.       Women interrupt because they want to show interest and cooperate in conversation

                                                                                 ii.       When men interrupt it is because they want to show their dominance

b.       She feels that when men usually interrupt it is because they feel that what they have to say is more important

c.        Dad example:  “Let me finish.”

III.                Unity Model

a.        Unity model places Deborah Tannen’s views in the dominance level

b.       Unity level states that the male (husband) should NOT interrupt his wife in a conversation

                                                                               i.       He should give his full attention

                                                                                 ii.       Smile when she smiles, laugh when she laughs

                                                                                   iii.       Anticipate her every emotion and show that he is 100% interested in what she has to say

c.        Michelle’s reaction to unity model

                                                                               i.       Unity would be nice but it is not expected

                                                                                 ii.       Good for women because when they “vent”, they just want someone to listen

                                                                                   iii.       Arguments start when the boyfriend or husband tries to give advice or try to fix the problem

IV.                Why Michelle Said

a.        She likes to be viewed as a good friend and someone that can help

b.       She is an accountant so she is engaged in meetings and works a lot in groups

V.                   Conclusion

a.        Gender and discourse reflects the dominance model but ideally women want to reach the unity model where they would be able to speak freely and openly without being perceived as being pushy or aggressive.

b.       It’s good to speak and have men listen rather than them interrupting or trying to change the subject.


Related Links:

1. : This website is very interesting because it’s titled “Six Common Mistakes That Spoil Conversations”.  These are examples of mistakes that injure the integrity of the conversation by blocking its flow, creating frustration, and reducing understanding and satisfaction.  The six most common types of mistakes that spoil conversations are: blabber mouthing, the “take-away” and “me-too” syndrome, unsolicited advice, interrupting, contradicting, and stingy contributors.  The one that pertained to my readings was the interrupting.  They described it as butting in before your partner has completed the thought.  Usually this is done because the interrupting people are impatient and are afraid of not getting their thoughts expressed.


2. : This website featured an article that was published in “Psychology Today” in 1988 and was titled, “Girl talk, guy talk: do men and women really have distinctive conversational styles?”  To sum this whole article up, it pretty much agreed with Tannen’s view of the interrupting styles.  There was a big emphasis on how men tend to gear conversations towards what they are interested in.  With this emphasis, women hardly talk about themselves or what they want to talk about.  For the record, this is the dominance of the man that is taking over the women.  Something that will not work in a marriage that wants to reach unity.


3. : This is a website that answers questions based on the differences amongst the genders in communication.  These are taken from the research on gender and communication by Dr. Beth Vanfossen.  She includes questions that can be answered to determine the different communication styles in the genders.  He questions that were addressed were, do men and women differ in their communication experiences, who talks the most, who interrupts, what about gender patterns in formal group meetings, what about gender patterns in informal group meetings, is there a women’s language connoting uncertainty and deference, does it matter, what are some of the ways women are affected by these patterns, are gender differences in communication patterns related to power, some strategies solutions and practical ideas.



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