Private Investigations and Personal Security/How is the polygraph currently...


How is the polygraph currently used by federal agencies like the FBI, CIA, NSA, NRO, DoD, DOE, DEA, BATFE, and U.S. Secret Service, as well as state and local agencies? What laws, regulations, and guidelines govern the use of polygraphs for screening, criminal investigations, administrative investigations, and other purposes?

What goes on in a polygraph "test?" What kinds of questions are asked in a polygraph examination? What is a "lifestyle" polygraph? How does the lie detector "work"? Just how accurate is the polygraph? Can truthful people fail? Can liars beat the polygraph? How can you protect yourself against a false positive outcome

if i cheated on a test can or should i tell them is thta part of the questions, and what is menat by do u consider oyurself honest ? isnt that very subjective?";  

The majority of polygraph tests accomplished by Federal agencies are to explore issues with their own employees either on a pre-employment basis, or for screening incidents such as administrative problems, internal theft, security issues, etc.  Of course they are often used for criminal matters to verify details of witnesses and occasionally to explore the possible guilt of an accused.  There are specific operating regulations which are mandated by each of the agencies or departments but if you want a general idea about what is required on a national level by employers of all types, go here:

Basically in a polygraph test the person undergoes a pre-test interview where the procedures are explained along with a discussion as to the issues they are being tested on.  For instance, if you were accused of stealing something at work the examiner would talk about the incident, how much money was stolen the time-frame, etc., and then would "narrow down" issues such as your being in the area at the time and so forth.  When this happens the subject of the test will get a clear picture as to the nature of the questions to come that relate to the issues being tested.  The questions are designed to explore that specific issue such as "did you take a $100 bill from the desk of Mr. Smith?".  In cases of pre-employment or general matters the questions would be more broad such as "have you ever been convicted of a crime?, have you ever been fired from a job?, etc."

Lifestyle examinations generally explored issues such as illegal drug use, alcohol, or other factors which may relate to a person's frequent activities that could affect their overall employment.

Here is some background info. on the polygraph process:

When a person takes a polygraph test, four to six sensors are attached to the person. A polygraph is a machine in which the multiple ("poly") signals from the sensors are recorded on a single strip of moving paper ("graph"). The sensors usually record:

   * The person's breathing rate
   * The person's pulse
   * The person's blood pressure
   * The person's perspiration

Sometimes a polygraph will also record things like arm and leg movement.

When the polygraph test starts, the questioner asks three or four simple questions to establish the norms for the person's signals. Then the real questions being tested by the polygraph are asked. Throughout questioning, all of the person's signals are recorded on the moving paper.

Both during and after the test, a polygraph examiner can look at the graphs and can see whether the vital signs changed significantly on any of the questions. In general, a significant change (such as a faster heart rate, higher blood pressure, increased perspiration) indicates that the person is lying.

When a well-trained examiner uses a polygraph, he or she can detect lying with high accuracy.  The polygraph is generally considered about 95% accurate if accomplished by well-trained and experienced people.

Take care.

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