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Accuracy and Utility of Polygraph Testing

NCJ Number
Polygraph Volume: 13 Issue: 1 Dated: (March 1984) Pages: complete issue
Date Published
143 pages
This document discusses the use of the polygraph in various settings, describes field studies of criterion validity, and analyzes research on the polygraph.
Polygraph use in the Federal Government is reviewed, along with its uses in criminal investigation, intelligence, counterintelligence, and security. Studies of the polygraph and its traditional methods conducted in 1953, 1974, 1981, and 1983 are analyzed, as are surveys of polygraph examinees (Atomic Energy Commission Employees and National Security Agency job applicants). Results of surveys of examinees in law enforcement and commerce are also reported. Quality control for polygraph examiners in the Department of Defense is considered in descriptions of their selection and training, and the U.S. Army Polygraph Training Facility is portrayed. The various primary polygraph testing techniques taught at the Army Polygraph Training Facility are outlined, including the zone comparison technique, the modified general question technique, and the counterintelligence screening test. Two types of field studies which have investigated the validity and reliability of the polygraph are explored: studies investigating the relationship between the examiner's decision and some criterion of truth or deception and studies investigating the relationship between the decisions of a blind examiner and actual truth or deception. Some of the problems and issues of lie detection are analyzed, and the Bersh field validation study is reported, as are laboratory experience with mock crimes and the experiences of professional investigators and quality control personnel. Abstracts of field and laboratory research conclude the presentation. Thirty-nine references are provided.