# Are people getting more selfish?

## Main Question or Discussion Point

For one thing, I have noticed that more people are using 'I' in their speech a lot of the time, even the lecturers. However, I have not lived long enough to observe any changes. Are people using 'I' more often then in the past. It certainly is the case that 'I' is used more ofen in songs which obviously will feed into daily speech.

However, it could be due to the reason that people are more defensive these days. It could be because people are more educated and aware that there are often more than one way to look at a matter. Hence they use 'I' to explicitly indicate it is their own view.

Last edited:

Related General Discussion News on Phys.org
George Jones
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
From 40 years ago

Last edited by a moderator:
I is the second most commonly used word in spoken English, and you is the third. I can remember learning that for the first time when I was in high school in the late 60's.

http://ucrel.lancs.ac.uk/bncfreq/lists/2_2_spokenvwritten.txt" [Broken]

Code:
word freq
the    39605
I        29448
you   25957
and   25210
it       24508
a       18637

Last edited by a moderator:

That's the conclusion from Dale Carnegie's classic book "How to Win and Influence People"

Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I do think people have gotten more selfish, but I don't think it's reflected in speech patterns so much as behaviors and expectations.

turbo
Gold Member
I do think people have gotten more selfish, but I don't think it's reflected in speech patterns so much as behaviors and expectations.
Also, there are some people who are very well-off because their parents are wealthy, and they often assume an air of entitlement and class-snobbery that unwarranted and is quite infuriating to those of us who have earned what we have. They tend to be overly materialistic, and yes, selfish. Some may grow out of it, some may never learn, and some may grow bitter and disenchanted if the money-well dries up and they realize that their chosen life-style cannot be continued on the money they actually have to earn.

Selfish, greedy, materialistic behavior is glorified in pop culture and there are whole segments of our society that try their best to emulate their "role models". I do think it's getting worse over time - conspicuous consumption financed by debt seems to be a growing problem.

JasonRox
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Also, there are some people who are very well-off because their parents are wealthy, and they often assume an air of entitlement and class-snobbery that unwarranted and is quite infuriating to those of us who have earned what we have.
This isn't new. It's been going on for a long time from what I heard. It's literally written in history books.

I'm not sure if people are getting more selfish (haven't been around long enough) but in general I do find people to be selfish for sure. Not only in a materialistic way, but also socially and emotionally.

Also, there are some people who are very well-off because their parents are wealthy, and they often assume an air of entitlement and class-snobbery that unwarranted and is quite infuriating to those of us who have earned what we have. They tend to be overly materialistic, and yes, selfish. Some may grow out of it, some may never learn, and some may grow bitter and disenchanted if the money-well dries up and they realize that their chosen life-style cannot be continued on the money they actually have to earn.

Selfish, greedy, materialistic behavior is glorified in pop culture and there are whole segments of our society that try their best to emulate their "role models". I do think it's getting worse over time - conspicuous consumption financed by debt seems to be a growing problem.
I agree with you all the way--

"I deserve" 'this' or 'that' seems to be implied behind a lot of it. "I want MORE for my children than my parents gave me" is another part--and the grown up 'children' continue that same thinking, especially with a credit card in hand. With so many of a first and/or second generation coming off an agrarian 'life style' (where it may have been less 'selfish') is adding to the "I, me, my" thing too of "more, more, more" in a city life style.

You don't think there is a link between use of the first person in sentences and selfishness. However, unfortunately your wife got wind of this thread and she has decided that you are too too selfish and always using the first person in your sentences and all. So from now on you are not allowed to use the first person at all. Thanks bunches PF, now life is going to be unbearable for you around here.

would it help to know that women speak about 10,000 words a day to a man's 500?

would it help to know that women speak about 10,000 words a day to a man's 500?
Why am i not surprised? :-)

lisab
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
would it help to know that women speak about 10,000 words a day to a man's 500?
Maybe it would also help to know that's not true. In fact, it's not even close:

The data suggest that women spoke on average 16,215 (SD = 7301) words and men 15,669 (SD = 8633) words over an assumed period of, on average, 17 waking hours.
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/317/5834/82

Some people just like the sound of their own voice. Saying I alot doesn't mean a person is selfish, maybe just a bit self-centred! :rofl:

Woman Speak 20,00
Men Speak 500

If this is correct, which some people have raised some suspision I do not see how it relates to selfishness? Those numbers have no reflection on how selfish people are.

BobG
Homework Helper
Maybe it would also help to know that's not true. In fact, it's not even close:

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/317/5834/82
That study might be flawed:
A potential limitation of our analysis is that all participants were university students.
Being university students, a disproportionate number of the males were not married.

lisab
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Being university students, a disproportionate number of the males were not married.
:rofl:

:rofl:

arf arf ARF----arf arf---ARF ARF!!!

Last edited:
BobG
Homework Helper
:rofl:

Correct. Married men learn to never say anything that might upset their wife.
"What's in the garage?" "Nothing"
"How much did that nothing cost?" "Not much"
"Why is the savings account empty, then?" "Bank error?"
"And their error was letting you withdraw money?" "Yep"

And a properly trained man never asks his wife for a divorce. He knows that would upset her.
"Where are you going this time of night?" "To buy cigarettes"
"What are you talking about? You don't even smoke." "I lost my lighter"
"Oh, can you pick me up some tampons while you're out?" "Uh....:uhh:"

The data suggest that women spoke on average 16,215 (SD = 7301) words and men 15,669 (SD = 8633) words over an assumed period of, on average, 17 waking hours.
Those 15669 words for men break down as follows:
7833 Yes
7833 Dear
1 Where's
1 the
1 butter

"Once I didn't talk to my wife for six months,"

said the comedian.
"I didn't want to interrupt."

more:
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003420.html

this one below is really interesting:
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003420.html

TABLE 3: Words most characteristic of female speech
WORD MALES M % FEMALES F % 2
she 7134 0.42 22623 0.87 3109.7
her 2333 0.14 7275 0.28 965.4
said 4965 0.29 12280 0.47 872.0
n't 24653 1.44 44087 1.70 443.9
I 55516 3.24 92945 3.58 357.9
and 29677 1.73 50342 1.94 245.3

Last edited:
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Those 15669 words for men break down as follows:
7833 Yes
7833 Dear
1 Where's
1 the
1 butter
HA!! I knew a "yes dear" was coming :rofl: , I could just feel it!!! (Guess that means I've been married a long time...)

BobG
Homework Helper
HA!! I knew a "yes dear" was coming :rofl: , I could just feel it!!! (Guess that means I've been married a long time...)
Ha! 13% of your words were "I"!

Not that that has anything to do with the topic..... Wait! It does! What a hijack of a thread!

Last edited:
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus