Richard Rogers, Regents Professor of psychology, has received the 2011 Award for Distinguished Contributions for Research in Public Policy from the American Psychological Association.
The award, which was presented to Rogers at the APA Annual Convention in August, honors a psychologist who has made a distinguished empirical or theoretical contribution to research in public policy, either through a single extraordinary achievement or a lifetime of work dedicated to informing public policy through psychological understanding.
Rogers received the award for his research on the comprehensibility of the nearly 900 variations of the Miranda warning that are being used by federal, state and county jurisdictions across the United States. He received more than $800,000 in grants from the National Science Foundation's Law and Social Sciences program in support of the research, in which he determined that different versions of the warnings range in their overall reading levels from second grade to post college, and that reading levels can vary remarkably in the same warning.
Rogers also discovered that some of the 50 most common words in Miranda warnings used for juveniles require an eighth-grade or higher reading level to understand, despite past research findings that show the juvenile offenders typically function four years below expected achievement levels and have lower than average IQs.
"Alarmingly, 5 percent of juvenile Miranda warnings require some college preparation for adequate comprehension, even though these warnings are routinely administered to preteens and young teens," Rogers says.
In response to Rogers' research, the American Bar Association adopted a policy in February 2010 to urge federal, state and local legislative bodies to develop simplified Miranda wording for juveniles. Rogers' research was also cited in several amicus briefs for the Supreme Court case Florida v. Powell.
A faculty member since 1991, Rogers has received numerous awards for his research, including the 2008 Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions in Applied Research from the APA. He is one of only three psychologists to receive distinguished contributions awards in both applied research and public policy from the APA.
He also is the author of Clinical Assessment of Malingering and Deception and the creator of the Structured Interview of Reported Symptoms, which is used to determine the accuracy of mental illness claims.
Nancy Kolsti with UNT News Service can be reached at Nancy.Kolsti@unt.edu.