Testing with a Polygraph
The goal of this research is to conduct a comparative analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of using a polygraph to verify the correctness of a subject’s testimony or other statement. It is not possible to determine whether or not an individual is lying with 100 percent accuracy using polygraph testing techniques alone. As a result, whether or not a polygraph is a beneficial instrument is up for debate. The use of polygraphs can also result in false negatives in situations when an individual may be supplying incorrect information but the polygraph fails to reveal this information. It is recommended that the polygraph be used to assess changes in physiological reactions in the applicant being evaluated, such as variations in pulse and breathing rates. Nonetheless, there may be cases in which an individual is able to manipulate these rates and deceive the testing procedure. So, how does one assess whether the benefits of taking a polygraph outweigh the risks of getting a false negative or not getting 100 percent accuracy? This question is explored in greater depth in the following paragraphs.
The Benefits of Polygraph Examination
According to Grubin (2010), individuals are often incapable of detecting lies on their own, with a prediction rate that seldom exceeds 60 percent on a consistent basis. When attempting to identify deception in experimental situations, even “expert lie catchers” are unable to discover rates that are significantly better than chance. For these and other reasons, polygraphs may be used to improve the success rate in detecting dishonesty in situations where it is most critical, such as in criminal investigations (Grubin, 2010). According to research conducted by the National Research Council, polygraph accuracy ranges from 81 to 91 percent, indicating that the information offered by polygraph exams is considerably superior to chance, despite the fact that the results are not flawless (Grubin, 2010). When security has been hacked, the use of a polygraph can help improve detection of deceit by as much as a 10% rise or more in circumstances where security has been broken (Grubin, 2010).
Disadvantages of Polygraph Examination
According to the Law Offices of Hilf & Hilf, PLC. (2014), the polygraph examination, often known as a lie detector test, is sometimes inadmissible in court, depending on the state in which the test is performed, depending on the type of test administered. A false negative or other faults that polygraphs are prone to could be the cause of this error. Researchers McGrath, Cumming, Hoke, and Bonn-Miller (2007) have suggested that polygraph examinations may yield inconclusive results in some situations. The researchers conducted a comparison study between sex offenders who participated in periodic polygraph compliance testing and those who did not participate in the exams. According to the findings of the study, while the individuals in the polygraph group had a lower incidence of new charges of non-sexual violent offenses, there were no differences between the groups in terms of new charges of sexual or any sexual or violent or criminal offenses when compared to the individuals in the group who did not receive polygraph exams (McGrath, Cumming, Hoke & Bonn-Miller, 2007). As a result, researchers are unsure if the results of polygraph examinations provide information that is useful in everyday life.
The Committee on Government Operations of the United States House of Representatives assisted in evaluating changes to policies regarding polygraph examination following studies indicating that polygraph examination is a very complex process that can be influenced by a variety of factors, including race and gender. These factors include examiner training, the context in which a polygraph text is conducted, and the types of questions that are asked. Inconsistencies in these aspects can lead to higher than average false negatives, requiring an examiner to repeat the test or accidentally implicating a subject who is undergoing polygraph testing in accordance with federal regulations (FAS, 2013).
It appears that, when combined with other analytical measurements in highly controlled and regulated environments, polygraph testing may be able to provide information that can aid in decision-making and decision-support. Polygraph testing, on the other hand, is a complicated technique that is prone to error. A polygraph test is therefore unsuitable for use as the sole instrument for deception analysis in any case or in a criminal/law enforcement situation, regardless of the nature of the case or setting.
FAS stands for Familial Assault Syndrome (2013). Polygraph. Chapter 7: Concluding Remarks The following URL was used to obtain this information: http://fas.org/sgp/othergov/polygraph/ota/conc.html.
D. Grubin’s dissertation (2010). The Polygraph and the Practice of Forensic Psychiatry JAAPL, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 446-451. It can be found online at: http://www.jaapl.org/content/38/4/446.full
Hilf and Hilf are two of the best friends someone could ask for (2014). The Polygraph Examination. According to http://www.hilfen und Hilf (Hilf & Hilf): “Polygraph tests are used to determine whether or not a person is a threat to society.” “What are the downsides of taking a polygraph test?”
McGrath, R.J., Cumming, G.F., Hoke, S.E., and Bonn-Miller, M.O. McGrath, R.J., Cumming, G.F., and Hoke, S.E. (2007). Indicators of success in a community-based sex offender treatment program: A comparison of polygraphed and non-polygraphed inmates Sex Abuse, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 381-393.