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Measuring Reading Complexity and Listening Comprehension of Canadian Police Cautions

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 37 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2010 Pages: 453-471
Joseph Eastwood; Brent Snook; Sarah J. Chaulk
Date Published
April 2010
19 pages
The reading complexity and listening comprehension of Canadian police cautions were measured.
In study 1, the complexity of 44 unique Canadian police cautions was assessed using five readability measures (Flesch-Kincaid reading level, sentence complexity, use of difficult words, use of infrequent words, and number of words). Results showed that 7 (37 percent) of the right-to-silence cautions (n = 19) and none of the right-to-legal-counsel cautions (n = 25) reached acceptable cutoff levels for all five measures. In study 2, university students ( N = 121) were presented with one of three cautions verbally and were asked to explain its meaning. Despite variations in complexity across the three cautions, participants understood approximately one third of the information contained in the cautions. The extent to which the needs of Canadian suspects and police organizations are being met and the validity of reading complexity as a predictor of listening comprehension are discussed. Tables, figure, notes, appendix, and references (Published Abstract)