Re: Does a lie detector test work?
Have done an immense amount of research on polygraphs lately, here's my take.
I think its absolutely innacurate to say "they dont work" or "they are unreliable". I also think it doesnt make much sense to say "if you feel you need to get the OS to take a polygraph then the relationship is to far gone."
First of all, the quality of a polygraph is dependent on a variety of factors. There are VERY GOOD polygraphys and there are VERY BAD ones. The reliability of a good polygraph depends almost entirely on how good the polygrapher is. So in this vein, only do a polygraph if you've hired the very best. Find the most experienced polygraph you can possibly find. He should have extensive experience with a very impressive CV, worked for the military or police etc. Get the very best. Otherwise I wouldnt recommend them. But if you get the very best, he can run a very reliable test. He (or she, but I'm not going to write out "he or she" the entire post) should also be ready to give an inconclusive conclusion. A good, experienced polygrapher will only conclude "truth" or "lies" if there is lots of evidence during the test to indicate so. Sometimes there is not, and there is nothing wrong with just concluding, "inconclusive" and accepting the result. (Often the tester will try again though, with a different approach. If the tester can tell the subject is trying to confuse the results, he will also know, and try again. Or he will just tell you the subject it trying to confuse the results, which should indicate to you that your spouse is not being very honest.) Ok, so lesson here is...IF you hire the best polygraphers (top 10%), you're one good ground for a reliable reading, but if you just hire an average guy then I wouldnt trust the results very much. The good polygraphers are like geniuses in how they can read people. And the good ones also dont solely rely on the readings from the polygraph, but have a variety of tools to gauge the subject's level of honesty.
Some people say the test is easy to pass. Google "passing a polygraph" and you'll come across a 100 sites advising you of a whole bunch of techniques, especially ones to use during the control questions part (count down by 7 from a thousand; stare and focus on a specific part of the wall; flex your sphincter etc etc). These dont work. They dont make you "pass" the test, but instead just make the readings incomprehensible. They dont let you get away with getting a "truth" conclusion while lieing, but rather will just screw up the results so much that the polygrapher will say...the test is useless. Moreover, the tester will know when these techniques are being used. It doesnt make alot of sense to have the readings spike during the control questions, for instance, or do a whole bunch of unpredicable things. In these cases all it demonstrates is not that you are able to pass the test, but just that its clear that youre TRYING to cheat it, which itself is like an admission of guilt. To truly pass the test (get a good polygrapher to sincerely conclude the truth is genuinely being told while the subject is lieing their face off) is extremely difficult, and takes an incredible amount of training. It's extremely difficult to prevent your body from not sweating, or involuntarily reacting in various ways, while lieing. There is a reason secret agents spend years to train their bodies to do this. The best an average joe can hope for is just an incomprehensible result, which itself is kind of like an admission of guilt.
So in terms of reliability, its pretty damn good...IF you hire one of the best polygraphers. Do your research.
Now as to the argument of "If you're at a point where you need to rely on a polygraph test, you already know this relationship is over" I reply....why? Presumably you're caught your S in some sort of A and want to find out if the WS's story is true (full disclosure) or if the WS has stopped contact etc. Its an A and trust has been broken. To rebuild it takes demonstrations from the WS of honesty. What is the difference between checking phone records and emails for the entire year after an A and getting a polygraph? Both are just things you need to do to rebuild trust, things you need to do to ensure your WS is being honest, and things a truly repentant WS would happily agree to. A WS spouse who has truly been remorseful and wants TR should have NO problem with a polygraph. In fact if I were a WS and was remorseful and wanting R I, me, the WS, would WANT to take the test so that I could prove to my LS that I've reformed and am committed to my spouse. If I were a WS I would also openly let my spouse check my texts and emails etc. That is the process of rebuilding trust.
And like others say, a polygraph is part of a process. Often just threatening one will get you desired results. Dont let a polygraph be the only tool you use, and dont put all your eggs in its basket, but let it be a useful gauge of truth among a variety others. But if you do go with a test, make SURE you've gotten the best f***ing polygrapher you could possibly find. There's ALOT of s*** ones so only get the best. Its helpful to ask the police department or the military for suggestions. Often they can point you to their once top polygrapher who is now retired and helps WS rebuild their trust for a pretty penny. If this is done, you are on solid ground.
Last edited by brokenbloke; 03-20-2012 at 05:15 PM.