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Most U.S. adults have vocabulary of more than 42,000 words
by Brooks Hays
Ghent, Belgium (UPI) Aug 16, 2016


Study: Tall people more likely to be politically conservative
Columbus, Ohio (UPI) Aug 16, 2016 - On the political scale, the tall tip to the right. According to new research, the taller a person is, the more likely the person is to support conservative political positions.

Researchers in the United States and Britain analyzed data from the 2006 British Household Panel Survey, which asked 9,700 adult participants questions about their height, income and political persuasion.

For every inch taller a survey respondent was, the chances of the respondent supporting the Conservative Party increased by 0.6 percent. Taller people were also more likely to vote for Conservative Party candidates and support conservative political positions.

For some, the results weren't all that surprising. Previous studies have shown taller people earn higher salaries, and a number of studies have found correlations between income and voting patterns.

But some scientists have suggested links between income and politics are overstated, and several studies have produced contradictory evidence.

"We were thinking about why there were so many seemingly contradictory findings," Sara Watson, an assistant professor of political science at The Ohio State University, said in a news release.

"One reason might be that income fluctuates from year to year, so that a relationship between your overall economic well-being and your political beliefs can be hard to uncover," Watson continued. "That's why we decided to see if height might be a good way to assess the link between income and voting."

Watson is the co-author of a study on the latest survey analysis, published this week in the British Journal of Political Science.

Unlike income, height doesn't normally fluctuate from year to year. The fact that they survey tracked households over a period of several years also helped stabilized data set.

Because the research connecting height and income is solid, the findings confirm previous links between income and political leanings.

"Height is useful in this context because it predicts income well," Watson explained. "Because we only expect height to affect political behavior through income, we can use it to investigate the effect of income on voting."

Traditionally, scientists have struggled to measure the size of adult vocabularies, but the surprising social media popularity of a recent vocabulary test has changed that.

After analyzing the results of one million test-takers, researchers determined native English-speaking Americans know an average of at least 42,000 words by the time they turn 20 years old.

"Our research got a huge push when a television station in the Netherlands asked us to organize a nation-wide study on vocabulary knowledge," Marc Brysbaert, a professor of experimental psychology at Ghent University in Belgium, explained in a news release. "The test we developed was featured on TV and, in the first weekend, over 300 thousand Dutch speakers had done it -- it really went viral."

The Americanized test features 62,000 words -- words study leader Brysbaert and his research partners compiled without the help of a copyrighted dictionary. The test can be used freely by other researchers, Brysbaert says.

The test doesn't ask participants to define words, but to simply identify whether or not a sequence of letters is a word in the dictionary or not. Each test presents participants with 70 real words and 30 fake ones -- letter sequences that resemble real words but are not.

Test-takers are asked to provide some basic demographics information. The data suggests adults learn one new word every two days. By the time an American adult turns 60, he or she will know at least 48,000 words.

Researchers say the growing body of data is bound to offer unique insights into the use of words across different languages.

"This work is part of the big data movement in research, where big data sets are collected to be mined," Brysbaert said.

"It also gives us a snapshot of English word knowledge at the beginning of the 21st century," he continued. "I can imagine future language researchers will be interested in this database to see how English has evolved over 100 years, 1,000 years and maybe even longer."

The new research was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.


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