The Polygraph and Lie Detection. Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. The search for a reliable means to detect deception has a long history. Because of the poor ability of most people, even professional 'lie catchers', to identify. Most psychologists agree that there is little evidence that polygraph tests can accurately detect lies.


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In summary, Paul was a partner in almost all of our tasks. Andrew White, director of the Committee on National Statistics, also participated in our meetings and offered assistance and support.


We are also grateful for help received from Nancy A. The accuracy levels in the four screening simulations in polygraph and lie detection sample, which include a validation study of the Test for Espionage and Sabotage TES polygraph and lie detection in the employee security screening program of the U.

Department of Energy DOEare in the range reported for other specific-incident laboratory studies. The one field study of actual screening presents results consistent with the expectation that polygraph accuracy in true screening situations is lower.

Countermeasures Countermeasures pose a potentially serious threat to the performance of polygraph testing because all the physiological indicators measured by the polygraph can be altered by conscious efforts through cognitive or physical means.

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Certain countermeasures apparently can, under some laboratory conditions, enable a deceptive individual polygraph and lie detection appear nondeceptive and avoid detection by an examiner.

It is unknown whether a deceptive individual can produce responses that mimic the physiological responses of a nondeceptive individual well enough to fool an examiner trained to look for behavioral and physiological signatures of countermeasures.

  • The Polygraph and Lie Detection | The National Academies Press
  • Executive Summary

The available research provides no information on whether innocent examinees can increase their chances of achieving nondeceptive Page 5 Share Cite Suggested Citation: We publish prepublications to facilitate timely access to polygraph and lie detection committee's findings.

The final version of this book has not been published yet.

The Polygraph and Lie Detection

A polygraph examiner who detects what he or she believes to be deceptive responses during the polygraph test normally conducts the remainder of the interview differently than an examiner who sees no signs of deception. In this situation, it is impossible without careful experimental analysis to disentangle the effect polygraph and lie detection polygraph validity from other elements of the interaction in the examination.

Finally, polygraph chart readings may be used directly to make inferences about truthfulness or deceptiveness. Assessments of the scientific validity of the polygraph test as a technique for the psychophysiological detection of deception polygraph and lie detection properly be made on test outcomes that depend only on chart scoring.

Despite such difficulties, it is important to distinguish between the use of the polygraph as a diagnostic test of deception, in polygraph and lie detection the charts are scored and decisions are made on the basis of the score, and its use as part of an interrogation procedure.

Executive Summary | The Polygraph and Lie Detection | The National Academies Press

Purposes of Polygraph Testing As we note at the beginning of this chapter, polygraph testing and interviewing polygraph and lie detection used for three main purposes: These different purposes are reflected in different kinds of questions that are asked in polygraph tests.

For an event-specific investigation, the polygraph is used to investigate a specific incident, such as a crime or a specific act of sabotage or espionage. For employee screening, the polygraph is used with current employees who may have committed acts prohibited by their employer or by law, but there is usually no specific known act that is the focus of the examination.

For this reason, it has been argued that it is inherently more difficult to discriminate deception from truthfulness in a screening context Murphy, For preemployment screening or preclearance screening of employees being considered for polygraph and lie detection job polygraph and lie detection, the polygraph is used to try to determine the potential for future acts.

Deception can be inferred from the polygraph in the same way it is done in screening current employees.

Front Matter | The Polygraph and Lie Detection | The National Academies Press

An example might be the investigation of a fairly large group of individuals who are suspected of involvement with a known terrorist organization. Such investigations are like typical screening situations in that there is no known specific polygraph and lie detection that can be the focus of questioning, but they are like specific-event investigations if it is possible to ask specific questions about the organization, its leaders, or the places in which it operates.

Strong physiological responses to such specific questions might indicate that the examinee has information about the terrorist organization and should be investigated more fully regarding possible ties to it.

The ability of polygraph testing to uncover the deceptions of interest and to serve broader law enforcement or national security goals may depend on the purpose of the test and the kinds of acts that are the subject of the polygraph and lie detection questions.

How does a lie detector (polygraph) work?

It is plausible that the task of the polygraph is easiest in event-specific investigation and hardest in preemployment screening. The possibility that accuracy depends on the purpose polygraph and lie detection the test makes it unwise to assume that accuracy estimates calculated from data when the polygraph is used for one purpose are pertinent to its use for a different purpose.

Our study focused on the use of polygraph examinations polygraph and lie detection employee and preemployment screening.