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Standardized Assessment of Miranda Abilities

Richard Rogers, PhD, ABPP, Kenneth W. Sewell, PhD, Eric Y. Drogin, JD, PhD, ABPP, and Chelsea E. Fiduccia, MS

Evaluates an individual’s Miranda abilities through a systematic framework
Paper and pencil
Age range:
18 years to 99 years
60-90 minutes
Qualification level:
All qualifications for Level B plus an advanced professional degree that provides appropriate training in the administration and interpretation of psychological tests, or license or certification from an agency that requires appropriate training and experience in the ethical and competent use of psychological tests. Close

The SAMA is a comprehensive set of five measures that helps forensic psychologists evaluate a defendant’s understanding of his or her Miranda rights.

Features and benefits

  • The most comprehensive assessment of Miranda decision making available.
  • Assesses vocabulary and comprehension of the wording typically used in Miranda warnings.
  • Assesses the knowledge, beliefs, and misconceptions that may affect a client’s choice to exercise or waive Miranda rights.
  • Measures the client’s reasoning skills as well as his or her tendency to acquiesce to authority.
  • Appropriate for use with defendants who may have lower verbal or intellectual abilities.
  • A detailed Professional Manual offers guidance and a standardized methodology to forensic evaluators.

Test structure

The SAMA comprises five measures:

  • Miranda Quiz (MQ). Twenty-five true-or-false questions measure common misconceptions about Miranda rights and their potential effect on Miranda decision making.
  • Miranda Vocabulary Scale (MVS). Assesses the comprehension of 36 key words that are relevant to Miranda, have specific legal meanings, and/or could be semantically confusing.
  • Miranda Comprehension Template (MCT). Assesses a client’s ability to accurately paraphrase the warning used in his or her actual Miranda advisement; examines highly prototypical content found in many Miranda warnings.
  • Miranda Acquiescence Questionnaire (MAQ). Measures the client’s level of yea-saying versus nay-saying.
  • Miranda Reasoning Measure (MRM). Provides a foundation for understanding the examinee’s thoughts and basic reasoning at the time of the Miranda warning and subsequent relinquishment of Constitutional rights.

Technical information

  • Extensive validation studies were conducted for all five SAMA measures using samples of pretrial defendants with pending criminal charges.
  • The MCT Score Sheet offers a systematic method of rating basic content as recalled, omitted, or not applicable to the particular warning used in the defendant’s arrest and advisements.
  • The MVS includes a performance curve that identifies possible cases of feigned cognitive impairment.
  • Consistent with previous findings, the MAQ Acquiescence scale was found to be negatively correlated with cognitive abilities as measured by the WASI.
  • The MVS was readministered at 2 and 4 weeks; its Total Score yielded test-retest reliability coefficients of .82 and .88, respectively.
  • The eight primary items of the MRM demonstrated excellent interrater reliability, with coefficients ranging from .84 to .98.
  • Experts categorized each MQ primary and ancillary item into seven relevant content domains, an exercise that established the content validity of the measure.