Polygraphs as Truth or Lies
Thanks to the abundance of police dramas on television, people have begun to believe that a polygraph test is infallible. Many studies, as well as a Supreme Court case, have since revealed that the veracity of polygraphs is far from impeccable. Also, there are few if any credible sources that support the veracity of polygraph machines. As Dr. Saxe and Israeli psychologist Gershon Ben-Shahar (1999) notes, "it may, in fact, be impossible to conduct a proper validity study." In real-world situations, it's very difficult to know what the truth is.” (American Psychological Association [APA], 2004)
Polygraphs do not function as a lie detector. A polygraph only ...view middle of the document...
All of these strategies present some sort of bias or inaccuracy. For example, these "relevant-irrelevant" tactic produces false positives due to the fact that the innocent party can be caught off guard by the abrupt topic change and experience stress symptoms similar to those who were lying. There are many other factors that can cause false results on a polygraph. Things like subject interview interactions, level of anxiety, and the placebo effect. Even simple things like medication or even whether or not you have eaten that day can all obscure the results. The true accuracy of a polygraph test has always been questioned. In 2003 the NSA took on the most comprehensive analysis in the accuracy of polygraph tests. Their tests revealed some interesting findings.
In populations of examinees such as those represented in the polygraph research literature, untrained in countermeasures, specific-incident polygraph tests can discriminate lying from truth telling at rates well above chance, though well below perfection (Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph, 2003).
Their analysis of the 30 most recent polygraph data sets showed an overall accuracy of 85 percent, and an analysis of seven field studies involving specific incidents showed a median accuracy of 89 percent. After looking at the data collected from the study, the NSA concluded that for...