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Psychologists Surveyed On Lie Detectors Say Most Are Not Valid, Not Scientifically Sound, and Can Be Easily Deceived.

WASHINGTON -- The use of the polygraph (lie detector test) is not nearly as valid as some say and can easily be beaten and should never be admitted into evidence in courts of law, say psychologists from two scientific communities who were surveyed on the validity of polygraphs. This survey appears in the June issue of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Applied Psychology.

To obtain a scientific opinion on lie detector tests, members of the Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR) and Fellows of the APA's Division of General Psychology were asked how accurate three different polygraphs were in detecting deception techniques.

The Control Question Test (CQT) 'compares the physiological disturbance caused by relevant questions about the crime (O.J.Simpson Case: 'On June 12, did you stab your ex-wife, Nicole?') with the disturbance caused by questions relating to possible prior misdeeds ('Before 1992, did you ever lie to get out of trouble?'),' said co-authors W.G. Iacono, Ph.D., and D.T. Lykken, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota at Twin Cities. This test is often used to determine whether certain criminal suspects should be prosecuted or classified as uninvolved in the crime.

The Directed Lie Test (DLT) detects lying by differentiating how a person reacts when they are told to deliberately lie and how they react when they tell the truth. The Guilty Knowledge Test (GKT) 'attempts to detect whether a suspect has knowledge that only the person who committed the crime and the police would have,' said Dr. Iacono.

A total of 421 psychologists with expertise in psychophysiology and statistics responded to two survey questions.The survey results found that psychologists and psychophysiologists doubted the accuracy claims that have been made by the polygraph community.

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