In the Wikipedia page of Johnson O' Connor, there is a sentence says (I add the boldness):

A person’s vocabulary level was the best single measure for predicting occupational success in every area.

Wow, so does this mean that everyone in this forum will be successful in every area? :)

However, all four reference links in that paragraph in Wikipedia aren't helpful. Either they are inaccessible online, or 50 year-old or more. I even have visited the site of Johnson O' Connor Research Foundation, but once again I can't find any useful information. The best one I could found is very generic.

Since "occupational success in every area" is too broad or vague the following: are there any studies besides these generic references that vocabulary level is a good measure for high income (as a measure of "success") later?

  • 1
    I think this question would fit well on Skeptics.SE.
    – Flimzy
    Jun 17, 2016 at 6:42
  • 3
    @Flimzy The number of words one knows is one of the ways language achievements are measured. And OP is asking about "vocabulary level". It is as well a well known fact to educators that language level and success (social, professional, ...) are correlated. What's unclear in OP's question? It just seems they just want to know more about it. What's unclear to me is the site's name. "Language Learning" does not specify "second language", does it?
    – None
    Jun 17, 2016 at 6:55
  • @Laure, I assume you are responding to the close reason. Note that the question has been edited since it was closed, possibly making the close reason obsolete. I have not seen anyone claim the question is off-topic because it's about first language acquisition, as it seems you are implying. I have not heard anyone claim it's still unclear, either.
    – Flimzy
    Jun 17, 2016 at 17:03
  • The community is free to reopen this question if they so desire. My comment about Skeptics.SE was not meant to indicate that this question cannot fit here.
    – Flimzy
    Jun 17, 2016 at 17:04
  • 1
    @Flimzy but you are one of the close voter. Maybe Laure wants to know your specific reason?
    – Ooker
    Jun 17, 2016 at 17:15

2 Answers 2


There is a study by Winship and Korenman (1999) that evaluated real-world ability (with respect to job function in the Air Force) as a function of the participants' performances on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), which has a sizable vocabulary portion.

The study suggests that a gain of one standard deviation on the AFQT raises one’s annual income by ~$10k.

You can read a bit more about the study and an analysis here.


It seems to me that according to statistics, the average vocabulary of successful people is greater than the average vocabulary of unsuccessful people. It should be true for society in general, and for each social or professional group. But if two values correlate, not always one of the values depends on another. Maybe they both depend on the third value.

  • 2
    I don't like this answer for a few reasons. 1. I don't know upon which statistics you're basing your conclusion; and, 2. I don't know how you qualify "success."
    – erip
    Jun 9, 2016 at 12:45
  • @erip unfortunately, I can't recall the exact link to that article. It was said that definition of "success" could vary a lot, but for professional groups, it was easier to give a definition of "success"
    – Schullz
    Jun 9, 2016 at 13:19

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