Research paper on polygraph test

In addition, they frequently lack a clear and independent determination of truth. Due to these inherent biases, observational field studies are also highly likely to overestimate real-world polygraph accuracy. Because the studies of acceptable quality all focus on specific incidents, generalization from them to uses for screening is not justified. Because actual screening applications involve considerably more ambiguity for the examinee and in determining truth than arises in specific-incident studies, polygraph accuracy for screening purposes is almost certainly lower than what can be achieved by specific-incident polygraph tests in the field.

The accuracy levels in the four screening simulations in our sample, which include a validation study of the Test for Espionage and Sabotage TES used in the employee security screening program of the U. Department of Energy DOE , are 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 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. Certain countermeasures apparently can, under some laboratory conditions, enable a deceptive individual to 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 available research provides no information on whether innocent examinees can increase their chances of achieving nondeceptive.

It is possible that classified information exists on these topics; however, this committee was not provided access to such information and cannot verify its existence or relevance. If these measures are effective, they could seriously undermine any value of polygraph security screening. The proportion of spies, terrorists, and other major national security threats among the employees subject to polygraph testing in the DOE laboratories and similar federal sites presumably is extremely low. Screening in populations with very low rates of the target transgressions e. Table S-1 illustrates the unpleasant tradeoffs facing policy makers who use a screen-.

S-1A If detection threshold is set to detect the great majority 80 percent of spies. Available evidence indicates that polygraph testing as currently used has extremely serious limitations in such screening applications, if the intent is both to identify security risks and protect valued employees. Given its level of accuracy, achieving a high probability of identifying individuals who pose major security risks in a population with a very low proportion of such individuals would require setting the test to be so sensitive that hundreds, or even thousands, of innocent individuals would be implicated for every major security violator correctly identified.

Its accuracy in distinguishing actual or potential security violators from innocent test takers is insufficient to justify reliance on its use in employee security screening in federal agencies. Polygraph screening may be useful for achieving such objectives as deterring security violations, increasing the frequency of admissions of such violations, deterring employment applications from potentially poor security risks, and increasing public confidence in national security organizations. On the basis of field reports and indirect scientific evidence, we believe that polygraph testing is likely to have some utility for such purposes.

Polygraph screening programs that yield only a small percentage of positive test results, such as those in use at DOE and some other federal agencies, might be useful for deterrence, eliciting admissions, and related purposes. However, in populations with very low base rates of the target transgressions they.

We have thought hard about how to advise government agencies on whether or how to use information from a diagnostic screening test that has these serious limitations. We note that in medicine, such imperfect diagnostics are often used for screening, though only occasionally in populations with very low base rates of the target condition. When this is done, either the test is far more accurate than polygraph testing appears to be, or there is a more accurate though generally more invasive or expensive follow-up test that can be used when the screening test gives a positive result.

Such a follow-up test does not exist for the polygraph. The medical analogy and this difference between medical and security screening underline the wisdom in contexts like that of employee security screening in the DOE laboratories of using positive polygraph screening results—if polygraph screening is to be used at all—only as triggers for detailed follow-up investigation, not as a basis for personnel action.

It also underlines the need to pay close attention to the implications of false negative test results, especially if tests are used that yield a low proportion of positive results. A belief that polygraph testing is highly accurate probably enhances its utility for such objectives as deterrence.

The Limitations Of Detection Of Deception Instruments

However, overconfidence in the polygraph—a belief in its accuracy that goes beyond what is justified by the evidence—also presents a danger to national security objectives. Overconfidence in polygraph screening can create a false sense of security among policy makers, employees in sensitive positions, and the general public that may in turn lead to inappropriate relaxation of other methods of ensuring security, such as periodic security re-investigation and vigilance about potential security violations in facilities that use the polygraph for employee security screening. It can waste public resources by devoting to the polygraph funds and energy that would be better spent on alternative procedures.

It can lead to unnecessary loss of competent or highly skilled individuals in security organizations because of suspicions cast on them by false positive polygraph exams or because of their fear of such prospects. And it can lead to credible claims that agencies that use polygraphs are infringing civil liberties for insufficient benefits to the national security.

Thus, policy makers should consider each application of polygraph testing in the larger context of its various costs and benefits. None shows any promise of supplanting the polygraph for screening purposes in the near term. The polygraph is only one of many possible techniques for identifying national security risks among federal employees.

Other techniques attempt to detect deception from facial expressions, voice quality, and other aspects of demeanor; from measurements of brain activity and other physiological indicators; and from background investigations or questionnaires. Computerized analysis of polygraph records has the potential to improve the accuracy of test results by using more information from polygraph records than is used in traditional scoring methods.

This potential has yet to be realized, however, either in research or in practice. We considered the potential to increase the capability to identify security risks by combining polygraph information with information from other screening techniques, for example, in serial screening protocols such as are used in medical diagnosis.

There are good theoretical reasons to think appropriate procedures of this sort would improve detection of deception, but we found no serious investigations of such multicomponent screening approaches. There has been no serious effort in the U. Given the heavy reliance of government on the polygraph, especially for screening for espionage and sabotage, the lack of a serious investment in such research is striking. Telling ingratiating lies: Effects of target sex and target attractiveness on verbal and nonverbal deceptive success.

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The Use of Polygraph Testing in Law Enforcement for Investigative and Hiring Tools

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Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lykken, D. The detection of deception. Psychological Bulletin, 86 , 47— In Table 1, a security screening application, we assume that only 10 of 10, examinees are guilty of a target offense, such as espionage. In the suspicious mode, the test identifies 8 of the 10 spies, but also falsely implicates about 1, innocent examinees.

Further investigation of all 1, people would be needed to find the 8 spies. The committee concluded that for practical security screening applications, polygraph testing is not accurate enough to rely on for detecting deception.

How to Pass A Lie Detector Test - Inverse

Table 2 summarizes criminal investigation applications in which only suspects are tested, and half of the suspects 5, of 10, are actually guilty. In the suspicious mode, the test correctly implicates about 4, of the guilty but falsely implicates about of the innocent.

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