A concise introduction to polygraph testing:
A polygraph, sometimes called a lie detector, measures and records a subject’s blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity while he or she is questioned. The idea is that if a subject responds to a question with a deceiving response the polygraph will show physiological reactions that are different from non-deceiving responses. John Augustus Larson invented the polygraph in 1921; he was a medical student at the University of California at Berkeley. It was first implemented within law enforcement by August Vollmer, the police chief of the Berkeley Police Department in Berkeley, California. Many members of the scientific community consider polygraphy to be pseudoscience, or a practice that is presented as scientific but: does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, and or cannot be reliably tested. However, in some countries, polygraphy is still being used as an interrogation tool during criminal investigations. It is also being used to supplement the interview process of prospective employees for certain public and or private sector jobs. In the United States, federal government agencies such as the FBI, the CIA, and many police departments, including the Los Angeles Police Department, are using polygraph examinations to question suspects and also to screen potential new recruits. However, in Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and Iowa it is illegal for a non-government employer to administer a polygraph examination. Further, polygraph testimony’s admissibility in court differs between each state, and its admissibility is typically up to the discretion of the judge. Yet, no defendant or witness can be forced to undergo a polygraph test. While its use in court is controversial, polygraphy is widely used during probation, particularly on sex offenders.
Interview of criminology & criminal justice professor Tom Mauriello (polygraphy expert):
The potential ethical issues that could arise during polygraph examinations:
Some concluding thoughts on polygraphy: