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Polygraph Science Name Professor Institution Course Date



History of polygraph

The emergence of the polygraph bases on the need to determine the best way of differentiating between truthfulness and lies in the suspect associating to wrongdoing. Since the introduction of the polygraphs, 100 years ago, various stages have occurred in it's development. It was in 1730 that a British novelist recommended that the criminal investigation department could use medical science in solving crime issues by taking the pulse of a suspicious fellow (Segrave, 2003). In 1878, Angelo realized that the breathing rate depended on the type of stimuli with the help of plethysmograph (Segrave, 2003). Subsequently, in 1892, Sir Mackenzie established the polygraph to study the undulated line marks related to the vascular pulses; and was not involved with the detection of lies. Psychologist Lombroso used the hydrosphymograph, the first modified device, to study the emotional changes occurring in the suspects especially in the assistance of the police. This triggered sir Mackenzie into developing his clinical ink polygraph, which made use of inks facilitate the interpretation of physiological functions. This marked the real modification of the today polygraph. Various significant events followed.

Initially, introduction of technique allowed the quotient calculation for inhalation to exhalation (Segrave, 2003). In 1914, Dr. Marston discovered the test for discontinuous systolic pressure to obtain intermittent systolic blood pressure reading during interrogation. Keeler then developed inked pens, to record changes in the cardiovascular activities, with subsequent introduction of the psychogalvonometer to measure the galvanic skin resistance. Reid developed the control Question Technique (CQT) to distinguish between non-deceptive subjects and less- deceptive lies (Segrave, 2003). The year 1948 marked the establishment of the first world’s polygraph school in Chicago (Keeler Polygraph Institute). Backster then modified the CQT to form the Zone Comparison Technique and the quantification system thereby making use of



polygraph be objective and scientific (Segrave, 2003). The year 1962 marked the phase for the introduction of computers in the use of polygraphs with subsequent research done to develop Computer Assisted Polygraph System (CAPS) to make use of algorithm (Segrave, 2003). The computer phase led to the establishment of polyscore 3.0, polyscore 5.1. The test done in 2003 indicated that the polygraph was able to deliver productive result in the replication of crimes. The use of polygraph associates to forensic psychophysiology.

Ethics in Forensic Psychophysiology

The ethics are codes that govern the behavior of the psychopylogist in the way they relate to their clients. The codes are significant since they ensure that the subject work towards achieving the aim of the polygraph. They include:

  • 1. Right of examinees

A psycho physiologist shall have respect for all their clients in the event of their operation of administering polygraph.

  • 2. Standards of rendering polygraph decisions

A member will only offer the ultimate solution when there is evidence of quality and clear polygraph records. Insufficient quality may arise when there are distorted recordings emerging from the examinees manipulation, recordings with insufficient responsively and tracing the results in unaccepted professional behavior (Segrave, 2003).

  • 3. Post-examination notification of results

A member shall offer a outstanding opportunity for the examinee to explain the physiological reactions to the recorded question. Exception may only arise when:



An attorney whose request is to put away any post-examination interview stands in for

the examinees. All the examination should only be available for the attorney. The court order executes the examination implying that there should be no post-

examination interview conducted (Segrave, 2003). The cases of set obligation

  • 4. Restrictions on rendering opinions

A member shall not present opinions regarding the condition of the examinee especially when the member does not meet the requirements allowing him to make the professional decision. However, this shall not bar the examiner from presenting the examinee’s actual behavior (Segrave, 2003).

  • 5. Restriction on examinations

A member shall not carry out an examination when administering of the latter intends to defy the law (Segrave, 2003).

  • 6. Fees

A member shall not accept or ask for fees which may relate to corrupting his or her final decision on the polygraph. The members should not associate to any fee that is conditional to the findings nor does a member manipulate fee given to him or her with the type of results delivered at the end of the polygraph examination.



Legal issues concerning the polygraphs

The employer has the right to request for an examination provided there is a substantial loss related to the financial execution of the employer. An employer has right to exert pressure on the employee whenever he or she suffers financial loss. Failure in polygraph examination with the presence of evidence may lead to the examiner facing dismissals. The employers always consider this as a serious offence. The employers believe that discipline to any failure should only apply to dismissal.

The admissibility in court

Some courts do not accept the use of the polygraph tests in being reliable and admissible. Further, the courts do not always draw inferences even if the accused resist going through the tests. The courts do not always take the polygraph test as the sole test otherwise there must be the presence of other evidences. The test presented has the regards of acting as the aggravating factor and not as the final evidence. The results yielded after the polygraphs are always the indication of deception and do not give a deeper clue to the extent of the misconduct.

However, should a certified, qualified examiner utilizing the acceptable, scientifically recognized testing procedures instruments and equipment the subsequent evidence obtained should be admissible during the disciplinary or arbitration proceedings. An example is the case between Harmse and Rainbow farm (Segrave, 2003).

Psychological issues in polygraph Mechanics of arousal



The definition of polygraph as a “lie detector” may influence more on the subject because of the type of arousal it triggers. The definition is a lousy misnaming that manipulates the subject into exhibiting a result that he or she did not associate. The polygraph is an autonomic arousal thereby the subject who tend to become highly arouse concerning the examination will always fail the test. The arousal normally projects the emotions other than guilt (Segrave, 2003). Consequently, most of the psychologists believe that due to the arousal caused, the polygraph cannot act as an infallible lies detector.

The theory underlying mechanism of the polygraphs is that lying is stressful. Thereby, the results of the polygraph rely on personal emotions and stress. The working of the detector relies on the fact that remarkably few individuals can manage both stress and emotions at the same time. However, the critics against the detector mention that most of the people can hide their stress even when they are conscious of their lies. The support of the detector wholly lies on the emotions and stress of the examinee.

In a normal lifetime, everybody have worries and fears over which they go through otherwise an individual would emerge as abnormal. The polygraph can function in distinguishing between the abnormal and normal behaviors by looking at the way an individual suffers pain, become stressed or disability. However, the critics has it that the polygraphs cannot be that effective since an individual may hide his or her pain in order to show courage; consequently, interfering with the result provided. In this situation, the polygraph will depict a normal person as abnormal and vice versa.

Anatomy and physiology of the human body What does the polygraph measure? Recordings and equipment



The anatomy of human body refers to the scientific study of morphology of human body. Human anatomy is divided into microscopic and gross anatomy. The study of minute anatomical structures by use of a microscope is Microscopic Anatomy. Microscopic anatomy includes cytology and histology. Gross anatomy refers to study of different body organs and tissues. The study mainly focuses on the functions that various body organs carry out, and the general effects in the event of a malfunction. Human physiology deals with the study of functioning of the normal body. Physiology is responsible for the description of how various systems of the human body operate. Homeostasis provides the basis for various physiological processes taking place in different parts of human body. Human physiology provides a comprehensive analysis and explanation about the processes that enable the body to maintain balance within each system (Segrave 2003).

The anatomy of cardiovascular system, respiratory system, nervous system, digestive system, endocrine system, urinary system, musculoskeletal system, and immune system ensure stability and effective functioning of various parts of the normal body. The polygraph measures and records several physiological processes and responses which includes breathing rhythms, body temperature, skin conductivity, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration. The instrumental also play a fundamental role in measuring of physiological changes caused by sympathetic nervous system during questioning (Segrave 2003). An examination using a polygraph is referred to as a psycho physiological detection of deception (PDD) in the United States. The data recorded during such measurements is vital in investigation and analysis of various anatomical and physiological processes taking place within a normal human body. The equipment monitors the physical reactions interviewees have whenever the panel asked them specific set of questions.



The machine is also equipped with specific devices that detect and even measure human blood pressure.

The Meditech Polygraph recorder, for instance, is a very sensitive oscillograph, and is capable of recording signals simultaneously from any sources in different modes.

Polygraph Instrument and Operations (functions, proper collection of question wording, tests and chart markings)

The polygraph instrument is a combination of medical devices, which are essential for monitoring the changes that occur in the human body. Such changes occur in the respiratory system, reproductive system, and digestive system among other systems. Hence, the instrument plays an important part in an effort to ensuring proper functioning of human body. When an examiner questions an individual regarding certain event or incident, he or she would be categorically interested in the changes in interviewee’s blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory, and electro-dermal activity. This is the basis of using a polygraph to determine such changes in relation to the normal levels. Fluctuations in heart rate, blood level and respiratory rate among other elements in comparison to the normal levels may be a clear indicator that the person is being deceptive and illusionary (Segrave 2003). However, exam outcomes are open to different interpretations by the examiner in relation to sincerity and seriousness of the interviewee among other aspects. The authenticity and consistency of the information given by the person may build trust between the examiner and interviewee or facilitate untrustworthiness and suspicion among the parties.

Polygraph tests as well as investigations are always associated with criminal investigations, although there are other instances where the instrument is used for very different



proposes. Many government institutions and entities, and some private-sector employers advocate for thorough examination of would-be-employees of such organizations in prior to employment. Polygraph examination would substantially help in building confidence and faith in a prospective worker of an organization especially concerning sensitive issues, which are instrumental for growth, and development of the organization. Incidentally, the manufacturers of the device have designed it such that it positively seek responses that go on in the body of an individual’s body when subjected to stress and anxiety. The kind of stress that a polygraph examines is associated with deception and lack of naturalness as reflected by the responses going on in a person’s body (Segrave 2003).

Although exams may not accurately detect if a person is lying, there are certain physiological responses that many people undergo when attempting to deceive others. By asking questions about a particular issue under investigation, and carefully examining the physiological reactions of the subject, the polygraph examiner would thus be in a better position to unravel elements of dishonesty and fraudulence.

Polygraph Question Formulation (proper question construction for various polygraph- testing techniques) Mention American Polygraph Association approved techniques including comparison questions, relevant/ irrelevant techniques, screening tests such as DLST or DVT and peak of tension questions

Formulation of questions is another important aspect of polygraph testing. The question formulation phase consists of technical, organizational, and personal components, and plays an important role in the research along with formulation of the framework. The American Polygraph Association (APA) in addition to APA policies, guidelines, requirements, and



instrumentation play key role in question formulation. In essence, the profile of the examiner, the examinee (subject), and the interpreter if any, plays dominant roles in question formulation phase (Segrave 2003). Question formulation is vital to a flourishing polygraph examination with the principles of test questions construction or formulation clearly noted by both the researcher and polygraph examiner. The examiner must use proper polygraph examination tools to accomplish his or her task in the most efficient manner. Areas covered in Polygraph testing and test question constructions:

Computer Abuse- Is the employee (subject) using the computer that is unrelated to work activities?

Credibility- Is he trying to beat the test by deliberately lying?

The polygraph technique represents a psychological procedure with the truthfulness of the subject being at the centre in addition to process of recording and evaluating autonomic responsivity to pertinent questions.

Chart Evaluation and criteria. Global and Numerical scoring systems

The primary objective of automated algorithms for polygraph data is creating statistically valid and reliable classification schemes. Chart evaluation and criteria also offers computing power and well developed statistical methods for modeling and classification. The law enforcement agencies and the legal community use polygraphs for criminal investigations, usually in the private sector for employment screening, and for espionage and sabotage testing.



According to polygraph examination statistics, the proponents claim high accuracy rates of 82%

for innocent and 98% for guilty subjects (Segrave 2003).

Chart evaluation and criteria encompasses raw data obtained from deceptive person on

chart 1. Apparently, the recordings include thoracic and abdominal respiration, the middle time

series being the cardiovascular signal while the upper is the electro dermal signal. Cardiovascular

activity, for instance, is measured by blood pressure cuff always located above the biceps

(Segrave 2003).

The global and numerical scoring systems are in connection with U.S. distributed polygraph

equipment with manufacturers developing other systems recently.

The data








51 (51)







117 (98)





Table 1: Number of specific incident cases by test type and ground truth. Numbers in Parentheses are the numbers of cases used in our analysis.

*Pre and Post test Interviews

The process of the use of the polygraph demands a psychological preparedness for the

obtaining of the appropriate and accurate data. The examiner hence passes the examinee under a



process of relieving any existing tension on the examinee. These are the pre test activities for the

polygraph and the interview.

The pre-test processes in addition, assist in the gathering of the

control questions that facilitate the assessment, evaluation and comparison of the results. The

tester should inform the examinee the essential of the working of the instruments

so that it

dissipates fears common with many people and stress the significance of telling the truth.


tester may request an individual to lie. People call this test “A stim test” and it


recommendable as in assuring the examinee that the lie detector notes it.

The preparations aids in the delivery of the actual process questions in terms of various

categories as the irrelevant and the relevant categories. The administration of the questions may

alternate so that it is effective in achieving the desired results. The post- test activities comprises

of the assessing the outcomes in reaching for the

conclusions. The passing of the test depends

on the comparison of the relevant questions and the irrelevant questions.

If the physiological

responses in the process of probable –lie regulation question are larger than the relevant

questions, then the examinee passes the test. Suppose the tester fails to achieve the desired

outcomes, then it prompts a circumstance that he or she would subject the individual to further

extensive process. This is in reaching for the comprehensible and satisfactory results. The

posttest comes to halt with availing of the desired results.

Alternate methods of persuading an individual to provide truthful information are

complex and unachievable. This calls for the involvement of the victims or the culprit in

ensuring that he provides the significant answers to the questions provided for him or her. In

case, he objects,

the individual undergoes hard and strenuous process to facilitate an individual

admitting the challenges.



* Polygraph countermeasures

The counter measures are the smart plans that the examinees entail in the process of

evading the traps of the polygraph. They vary and range from mere elementary physical

techniques to highly complex mental countermeasures and finally the application of the drug use

and the biofeedback techniques. The list is wide and includes the physical measures, drugs,

hypnosis, biofeedback and mental. The physical measures by the

subjects are the commonest of

all the countermeasures by the subjects. This makes them attract the limelight in the process of


The physical actions ranging from the tensing of the body muscles, tongue biting,

squeezing or tightening of the toes and body shifting

affect the an individual’s physical

responses. Recent researchers conclude that physical counter measures lowered the detection

rate improving the chances of a negative rate to approximately 78 %. The application of drugs in

the countermeasure leaves the process to complexity. This is in consideration of the

pharmacological conditions that most drugs inflict to the subjects. Theorist and assessors agree

that pharmacological agents are a recipe for wrong and polygraphs that none can interpret. The

recent data shows that the tranquillizer and the meprobamate advance the ability of the people to

evade detection.

Hypnosis or Biofeedback

Hypnosis or the biofeedback has several documents in the support alleging that it

supports the alteration of the physiological responses. Most books contend that hypnosis causes

the decline of the skin conductance degree. Several studies show that hypnotically expressed

amnesia is an efficient countermeasure. Study on the biofeedback reached a success point of



concluding that it had considerable potentials in suppressing the EDR. Thus, it reduces the

ability to detect especially after training as in contrast with the control group. It is extremely

ordinary for the

biofeedback and the hypnosis to work with the tests like the CQT though


training may be involved in reaching for success in their use.


The mental basing of an individual acts as a countermeasure

because it makes an

individual think differently from the test. The polygraph processes borrow hugely from the

subject motivation to assure the success of the processes. However, the twisting of the thinking

patterns to suit some patterned way of thinking acts as a countermeasure against the process.

Simple cognitive countermeasures comprise of patterns that suppresses the responses to regulate

on the irrelevant questions.

*Practical Skills of Polygraphist

The polygraphist must have outstanding skills and qualities to facilitate him or her

perform the job requirements efficiently. The skills dictate the demanding nature of the

polygraphist job position. The fundamental qualities are the ability to follow procedures and

instructions in a stepwise manner. These are vital in the

preparation phase, analysis, pretest and

the posttest phases. The polygraphist should show remarkably high ranks or levels of thinking.

The reasoning is crucial in the deduction of the right conclusions. It is extremely significant



analysis of the subjects answer and responding effectively to the interrogation or interview to

facilitate successful communication.

The writing of the final document or report of the interrogation becomes

attainable by

the mastery of an efficient communication and verbal skills. Swift analysis

and evaluation of

the mathematics information arises in the process of the interrogation hence the tester should

posses outstanding command for mathematics. Mathematics features in doing approximations

and improvement of the thinking capacity of the polygraphist. The job calls for love and desire to

exert a lot. This shows that it may not obey routine breaks, as emergencies are common. The

polygraphist should have the capacity to work under confrontational ambience and under

pressure. He should show excellent proofing skills. The ability to keep confidential information

overrides. Most of these cases involve police cases and security of the country.


polygraphist should maintain a high degree of professional and personal integrity.

*Preparing for Testimony court and hearings

Preparation the testimony for the court hearing demands utter care for the consideration

of the validity evidence extracted from the individual. This should facilitate a legal proceeding

and a court hearing process. It should at least have the essential regards for the law providing the

basis for the prosecution of the subject. The analysis of the past’s cases reads various loopholes


have in the past-propagated unsuccessfulness in the attaining of justice for the individuals

involved in crimes. Involvement of the scientific expertise in the assessment of the finalized data

is fundamental in reaching for the tangible supports that are vital in court running process. The



error rate for the methods entailed on the subject in the process of attaining the information is

extremely valuable in influencing the legal bench. It is highly valuable that the evidence attained

be scrutinized and involvement of the publication review process. The theories applied must


excellent acceptance by the public and the legal processes.




Segrave, K. (2003). Lie detectors: A social history. Jefferson, NC [u.a.: McFarland.