Suzanne Evans Wagner of Michigan State University said the study involved a group of 16- to 19-year-old females from Philadelphia. The researchers measured how often they used "ing" versus "in" in words such as "runnin" versus "running" from their high school senior year into their college freshman year.
Wagner found students who attended or planned to attend a national research institution increased their use of the more socially acceptable "ing" pronunciation, rather than "in" the most.
Those who attended a community college, a liberal arts college or a regional small school showed only a slight increase in the use of "ing," if at all.
"It seems as if in high school, students who want to go to a good college are the ones who early on begin to dial back their use of non-standard language," Wagner said in a statement.
"And the ones who have no aspirations to leave their local community, or who have no particular aspirations to raise their social class, are the people who have no obvious social incentives to change the way they speak."