Psychologists and computer-science researchers from five universities in the U.S., U.K. and Australia teamed up to analyze the language of more than 15,000 Facebook users in an effort to compare behavior on the social network with previous psychological studies.
Power differentials tend to be weaker among friends, which could result in more assertive language, according to Ms. Kern.
The researchers found all users were more assertive when talking about social topics using words such as party, dance, club and wanna —and women talked about these topics more frequently than men.
Researchers analyzed two years worth of Facebook posts from more than 15,000 users starting in 2009.
Users agreed to give the researchers access to this data in a Facebook app about personality tests that collected information from more than four million people.
Ultimately, this research method could be applied to other online forums, such as Instagram, Twitter and blogs, to study the dynamics of different subcultures, Ms. Kern said.