Posted on June 12, 2014

Maps Reveal Intelligence Levels Across the US Based on Tweets

Ellie Zolfagharifard, Daily Mail (London), June 12, 2014

Living in Massachusetts or New Hampshire may mean you’re more intelligent than residents of California and Mississippi.

That’s according to a recent study of reading levels and IQs, based on 500,000 Twitter messages posted by people across the U.S.

The study used a computer algorithm to score tweets based on spelling, grammar and word choice, and found a significant difference in state-by-state intelligence.

Californian real-estate group Movoto has now used this data to create a series of 3D interactive maps showing a breakdown of reading level and IQ by state, based on the Twitter feedback

Overall scores were relatively low, with the majority of states falling between a fourth grade and sixth grade reading level.

‘The required brevity of tweets is likely the cause of this, and the comparison of states is the real measurement of interest,’ said Chris Kolmar, chief economist from Movoto.

Interestingly, state-by-state results seemed to match up to previous official state education performance statistics.

For example, of the five states that ranked the lowest in grade-level reading ability during the analysis of tweets, four of them also ranked in the top six of worst-educated states in 2011.

These included Vermont, Wyoming and New York.

The most intelligent states, based on reading level on Twitter, were all in the north and are split equally between the northeast and the cluster of states that include Minnesota, both Dakotas, and Montana.

In the State of the States in Education report, which is based on 2009 data, half of those states were listed as a top 10 state for 8th-grade reading proficiency.

The majority of the states coming up somewhere in the middle, with average scores were located in the west, southwest, midwest, and along the east coast.

‘An interesting question which is not explored here would examine the reason behind this correlation,’ said Kolmar.

‘Are worse writing skills correlated with lower IQ scores, are IQ tests necessarily biased to the better educated?’

The states with the lowest IQ were found to be Mississippi, Alabama, New Mexico, Louisiana and California.

Somewhat unexpectedly, high-school graduation rates didn’t match up with a state’s tweeting abilities.

‘Perhaps there should be a class on incorporating proper grammar, spelling, and word choice into tweets,’ Kolmar concluded.


[Editor’s Note: An interactive version of the map is available here.]