Determining Political Text Complexity: Conceptualizations, Measurements, and Application

Petro Tolochko, Hajo G Boomgaarden


Language is of major importance in communicating politics to the people. Political texts, however, vary in their use of language beyond their particular contents. Some texts are structurally and linguistically more complex than others. Text complexity, in turn, has an impact on audiences’ abilities to process and acquire information. Yet, the measures used to operationalize textual complexity are vastly different across studies. This study analyzes whether various complexity metrics measure similar underlying constructs and develops an approach to determine the complexity of texts. The current article provides evidence that text complexity is a multidimensional construct and thus should be studied more carefully. It subsequently validates this approach by applying it to a sample of political newspaper articles. The approach should inform future studies on the structure and effects of linguistic complexity on political communication and beyond.



linguistic complexity, political communication, automated text analysis

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