Filler words (I mean, you know, like, uh, um) are commonly used in spoken conversation. The authors analyzed these five filler words from transcripts recorded by a device called the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR), which sampled participants’ language use in daily conversations over several days. By examining filler words from 263 transcriptions of natural language from five separate studies, the current research sought to clarify the psychometric properties of filler words. An exploratory factor analysis extracted two factors from the five filler words: filled pauses (uh, um) and discourse markers (I mean, you know, like). Overall, filled pauses were used at comparable rates across genders and ages. Discourse markers, however, were more common among women, younger participants, and more conscientious people. These findings suggest that filler word use can be considered a potential social and personality marker.
- Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
- Funding The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The research was supported in part by the Army Research Institute (W5J9CQ-12-C-0043) and the National Science Foundation (IIS-1344257; NSCC-0904913; BCS-1228693).