An explanation of the polygraph institute and how a polygraph machine works. How is a polygraph test conducted, and when or where are polygraph tests used? What kinds of cases do we use polygraph tests for, and who are our clients?
Polygraph Tests – Truth Machines
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Polygraph Tests – Truth Machines


An explanation of what a polygraph is and how a polygraph test is conducted

The polygraph machine first came into use during the 1920s in the United States.  Polygraph tests are common in the field of criminal investigations, but they are also useful in the field of employment, security, private investigations, and more.

A polygraph machine can detect the heart rate, breathing activity, and electrical conductivity of the skin of the person tested. The machine is built to detect the irrational responses of a person in order to determine if he or she is lying.

The excitement level of the person tested is irrelevant to the polygraph test and does not interfere with the preparation of questions. One of the most common testing methods when using a lie detector is to ask “probable lie” types of questions.

The person tested is asked two types of questions: fundamental questions and critical questions. During the course of the test certain futile questions are integrated, which the examiner ignores later when analyzing the test results. Fundamental questions are direct questions regarding the subject of the test.

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It is important that fundamental questions be worded in a fair and direct manner. The critical questions asked during the course of the test are intended to elicit feelings of guilt in the person tested, regardless of the subject of the test. These questions are meant to cause discomfort in any adult person.

The futile questions asked relate to matters known in advance, about which there is no reason to lie. The purpose of these questions is to increase the confidence of the person tested in the examination, and to heighten the person’s responses to the critical and fundamental questions.

During a polygraph test electric cables are attached to the body of the person tested in order to monitor physical changes and occurrences. After the test the examiner analyzes the results. The biological reaction to the critical questions is compared with the biological reaction to the fundamental questions.

Lying is suggested by a more intensified response to the fundamental questions. On the other hand, a more intensified response to the critical questions suggests that the person tested is telling the truth. The reliability of a lie detector test is a controversial issue.

Studies regarding the reliability of a lie detector test have shown that the accuracy percentages vary between 70% (at worst) and 95% (at best). In light of these studies, criminal courts in the state of Israel have determined that lie detector tests are invalid. In several European countries it is forbidden by law to use polygraph tests as a method of investigation.

In the United States, policies regarding the use of polygraph tests vary from state to state. The law in Israel states that a person refusing to undergo a lie detector test cannot be deemed guilty simply because of his refusal.

Courts of law tend to accept the results of a polygraph test that was conducted under the consent of both parties. In the event of a polygraph test conducted within the framework of a standard contract (insurance agreement), there are explicit instructions that the person tested must give his or her clear consent to undergo the test regarding a specific insurance incident.

As in criminal cases, the unwillingness of a person to undergo a lie detector test is not sufficient evidence in a court of law. On the other hand, this unwillingness can definitely be considered in the private sector. An employer can fire an employee suspected of embezzlement and/or leaking information who refuses to undergo a lie detector test, just as he can fire a suspicious employee found to be lying during a lie detector test.

In either case, the employer should receive legal consultation from a lawyer before firing a suspicious employee or after receiving the results of the aforementioned polygraph test.

Circumstances in Which We Conduct Polygraph Tests

  • Testing Prior to Employment - Tests to determine the previous background of an employment candidate
  • Testing With Suspicion of Theft / Embezzlement - Tests to question an employee suspected of theft or embezzlement.
  • Seasonal Testing - Seasonal testing of a representative sampling of employees in a company
  • Polygraph Tests for Insurance Companies - Tests in cases such as: damage, theft from a home or business, auto theft, and car accident claims. The purpose of tests in these cases is to prove the existence and extent of the damage.
  • Testing Suspicion of Molestation/Sexual Harassment - A lie detector test may be helpful in cases of suspected violence in the family, molestation, sexual harassment, and infidelity within a marriage.
  • Several private investigation agencies make frequent use of polygraph test findings during the course of private investigations in a wide range of subjects.

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