The reading complexity of a sample of Canadian “KGB warnings” was assessed, along with the oral comprehension of one of those warnings. In Study 1, the complexity of 29 warnings was assessed using five readability measures. Results showed that the warnings are lengthy, are written at a high-grade level, contain complex sentences, and contain words used infrequently in our everyday language. In Study 2, university students (N = 80) viewed a video of an individual reading the warning aloud in its entirety (Full) or in four sections (Chunked), and comprehension was assessed using recall and recognition measures. Results showed that, when collapsed across the two conditions, participants tended to comprehend less than half of the contents of the warning. Presenting the warning in chunks produced higher levels of comprehension. The likelihood of witnesses understanding the content and consequences of the KGB warning are discussed.
police special warning KGB reading complexity comprehension
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We would like to thank Kathy Keating and Randon Slaney with the recruitment of participants for Study 2. We would like to thank all of the police organizations that supplied us with a copy of their current KGB warning and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback.
Research support was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to the first, second, and third authors.
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