Fooling Around the Polygraph

The disappearance of Chandra Levy pointed to Rep. Gary Condit as a person of interest. The family of the missing intern and their lawyer challenged the Democrat to take a polygraph test. The solon heeded the challenge of the family and their lawyer and have himself subjected to the test. The result revealed that Rep. Condit passed the test. He went on to claim that his hands are clean as suggested by the results of the test.

One could easily believe that the congressman’s hands are clean if the judgement had to be based on the polygraph test result. However, experts in polygraph testing express a dissent to the congressman’s claim that he was not involved with the case of the missing intern.

lie detector test

Reliability Issue  

The reliability of the test has a significant implication on how believable test results are. The accuracy of the polygraph test has been the source of so many controversies.  Even the experts have differing index where they base their claim on the accuracy of the polygraph test. The staunch proponents on the use of polygraph test to detect deception claim that the accuracy is about 90 per cent. This claim was downplayed by the polygraph test critics saying that the accuracy is just at about 70 per cent.

Labelling Issue

The polygraph test is popularly known as the lie detector test. However, experts rectify this labelling and even express that it is a bit of a misnomer. Polygraph testing experts vehemently uphold that there is no test to determine whether the person is lying or not. The very nature of polygraph tests makes it susceptible to certain criticisms as well. Human nature is on top of these.

Coy Lie

Experts have openly expressed that lies cannot be detected. Even with the polygraph test, liars can still get away with the deception. The polygraph is not specially equipped with a feature to identify lies with 100% accuracy. There are individuals who can beat the polygraph. Even when subjected to the test, these individuals can still lie without the instrument detecting it.  This makes polygraph test dangerous when used as evidence in court.

Familiarity with Questions

Examinees in the polygraph test have to answer structured questions. Prior to the test, the examiner orients the examinee with the questions to be asked. This allows the examinee to familiarize himself with the questions that he or she has to answer. The standards of administering the test make it clear that the examinees are not bombarded with questions without the necessary orientation.



Where Fools Thrive

The psychophysiological changes that have been recorded during the test serve as the basis of the test result. Human beings innately feel anxious when confronted by a test – taking situation. Liars also experience the same feeling of anxiety when asked to take a polygraph test. The polygraph only takes the changes in sweating and breathing patterns, blood pressure, and pulse. In both cases of anxiety, the polygraph could not identify which is which.

Meanwhile, individuals who have gained familiarity and expertise over the nature and use of the polygraph know exactly how to deal with the situation. They are those who can beat the polygraph. It is where they can thrive.

I’m Abigail Joseph, an experienced blogger, and journalist, who writes for both print as well as online media. I’m a storyteller and a travel writer at I write about luxury spa travel. Prior to this, I worked as the editor of a travel website and books.

Abigail Joseph – who has written posts on The Insider’s Guide.