Remember that study conducted by real estate brokerage Movoto from about a month ago that was able to determine whether beer, Netflix, or sex was more important to each state based on the contents of their Twitter feeds? Well, they’re at it again, and this time, they’re taking a look at reading level according to Twitter. Movoto analyzed over 500,000 tweets from across the country in an effort to determine whether or not there’s a distinction between states when it comes to our social media spelling and grammar skills. Obviously there’s going to be at least a little bit of dumbing down on Twitter no matter where you are; a 140-character limit isn’t exactly going to leave room for the creation of the next Great American Novel. But although this means that reading-level-by-tweet scores are relatively low across the board, with most states falling between fourth and sixth grade and with an average of 4.9, the comparison between states speaks volumes. Here’s what they found:
There are extremely clear delineations by region, with the Northeast, the Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest scoring the highest and the South scoring the lowest — which, in what I consider the most interesting finding of the study, correlates quite strongly with how good the education system is in each location. According to the State of the States in Education report using data from 2009, a great deal of the best-scoring states ranked in the top 10 for 8th grade reading proficiency; furthermore, Vermont and Wyoming left pretty much everyone else in the dust, with Vermont scored 5.7 — almost at a sixth grade reading level — while Wyoming scored a 5.5. Meanwhile, out of the five states that ranked lowest — Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi — four of them also ranked in the top six worst-educated states in 2011: Mississippi ranked number two, Arkansas number three, Louisiana number five, and Alabama number six.
Interestingly, there’s also a little bit of a correlation between each state’s reading level and their average IQ scores — but it’s not an exact match. For example, California, which did comparatively well on their Twitter reading level (5.08), has one of the lowest average IQ scores (95.5). The highest IQs, meanwhile seem to be situated in New England and the area around Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota. Movoto suggests that further research might follow this thread a little further: Do worse writing skills correlate with lower IQ scores, or are IQ tests necessarily biased to the better educated?
You can take a look at a 3D map illustrating the study’s findings here; head on over to Movoto to see some 2D maps depicting both Twitter reading levels and IQ scores by state, as well as a bit more analysis. In the meantime, maybe we should all try to beef up our summer reading lists a little...