Why We Say 'Um'

In a recent study of hundreds of recordings of everyday speech, researchers found that younger people—and women more than men—use conversational fillers such as “uh,” “um,” “I mean,” “you know” and “like” most often. Interestingly, it also seemed that conscientious people frequently employ these kinds of pauses in speech. The researchers’ theory is that conscientious people tend to be more thoughtful and aware, so maybe these phrases are a result of, you know, carefully considering their, um, words.

MORE: Find Out Where You Fall on the Conscientiousness Scale