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Previous empirical studies have suggested that language is primarily used to exchange social information, but our evidence on this derives mainly from English speakers. We present data from a study of natural conversations among Farsi (Persian) speakers in Iran and show that not only are conversation groups the same size as those observed in Europe and North America, but people also talk predominantly about social topics. We argue that these results reinforce the suggestion that language most likely evolved for the transmission of information about the social world. We also explore sex differences in conversational behavior: while the pattern is broadly similar between the sexes, men may be more sensitive than women are to discussing some topics in the presence of many other people.

Original publication

DOI

10.1007/s12110-017-9300-4

Type

Journal article

Journal

Hum Nat

Publication Date

12/2017

Volume

28

Pages

423 - 433

Keywords

Conversation group size, Function of language, Intimate conversations, Sex differences, Adult, Communication, Female, Humans, Interpersonal Relations, Iran, Language, Male, Sex Characteristics, Social Behavior