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Science and the CQT polygraph

A theoretical critique

Abstract

Despite substantial contrary scientific evidence, polygraph tests to detect deception continue to be employed in the United States. It is argued that polygraph tests (in particular, the Control Question Technique) lack construct validity. Polygraph tests do not assess deceptiveness, but rather are situations designed to elicit and assess fear. Correct decisions may be obtained when subjects fear detection; however, because there is no way to determine the cause of a subject’s fear or anxiety, validation is impossible. The paper also considers other physiological detection paradigms and concludes that because of the nature of honesty their use to detect deception is unlikely.

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Saxe, L. Science and the CQT polygraph. Integr. psych. behav. 26, 223–231 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02912514

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Keywords

  • Smoke Alarm
  • Autonomic Arousal
  • Control Question
  • Polygraph Test
  • Guilty Person