When Lie Detection Tests are Used

Most people know about the use of lie detectors to detect deception. However, many may have a limited perception as to the range of purposes they can be useful for.

Cases When Lie Detection Tests are Used

  • Resolution of Criminal Cases

Lie detection systems are most useful in giving strength to an accusation or defense when there is lack of physical evidence that links a suspected offender to the particular criminal case. They also help ensure the truthfulness of the persons testifying in court and the reliability of their testimonies.

Since lie detection tests are not infallible, there are several courts in the USA that do not allow the presentation of test results as useful court evidence.

However, there are certain states and federal courts that allow it in special cases and when there is mutual agreement between parties involved in the criminal investigation.

  • Scrutiny of Sex Offenders

There are many states that require sex offenders to undergo polygraph tests before they are subjected to the appropriate legal actions.

Even those who are released after they have served their sentence can be asked to go through lie detection tests periodically. This is especially necessary if they are suspected to have committed sex crimes again.

  • Maintenance of National Security

In some cases, several federal, military, and government agencies in the USA such as the FBI, CIA, Department of Defense, and National Security Agency use lie detection tests to expose crimes that pose threats to national security and public safety.

  • Screening of Business Employees

Certain companies now require applicants to undergo polygraph tests to ensure how fit they are to hold a position in the company.

These tests could be considered essential for companies like banks and other financial institutions. The employees they are hiring will deal with large sums of money and transactions that require confidentiality. Honesty and trustworthiness are two important characteristics that lie detector tests can ascertain for the companies in the employees that they hire.

  • Investigation in Suspected Commercial Theft Cases

Internal crimes like pilferage and pocketing funds are not uncommon. Some can be as simple as dipping into the cash register to steal a few dollars. Some can be as high tech and elaborate as setting up fake bank accounts and siphoning money from other people’s bank accounts.

Suspected employees, perhaps even those who might have knowledge about the case, could be asked to go through a lie detector test. There are, however, some limitations to using lie detector tests on employees in the US as mandated by the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988.

Under this law, there are certain guidelines that must be followed and/or considered when administering polygraph tests. For instance, the refusal of old employees to undergo the test may not be used as grounds for their removal from their position or for termination.


  • Personal Reasons

Aside from the most common uses of lie detector tests in criminal investigation and in business, you may also use these tests for your own personal concerns.

You may want to know whether your spouse is being truthful to you or is hiding something from you. You can have any family member go through a lie detector test if you suspect that he has committed a petty crime or is engaged in a prohibited activity.

Where to Go for Lie Detection Services

There are actually companies in the US that offer lie detection services. The technology and equipment being used in these tests are continuously being developed to make the tests more accurate and reliable.

It is important to find a company that you can trust to give you accurate results. You do not want to pay for services that will only give you false peace of mind. Choose the company that has:

  • skilled and certified examiners – lie detection services companies should have examiners with excellent educational backgrounds in psychophysiology and/or forensics. These experts can better assess the physiological responses of the examinee and can provide a more comprehensive analysis of the tests.
  • advanced recording tools – many companies now use digital polygraphs that are more sensitive to the changes in the physiological functions of the examinee. In addition, digital polygraphs are also less-invasive and thus, people feel less anxious about taking the test.
  • methods approved by the American Polygraph Association – there are industry standards to be followed to ensure the accuracy of the test results. These standards were also put in place to safeguard the welfare of those who will take the tests.
  • legal practices in proper observance of the law – there are laws that govern the conduct of lie detector tests. You cannot just hook a person to a machine and ask him all sorts of questions. Those who are asked to take the tests have rights that are protected by law. These laws ensure that the tests are done in an ethical manner and that no rights are compromised in determining the truth.

Other Important Considerations

While polygraph tests can be extremely useful to uncover crimes or to uncover deception, people must not rely on these results alone. The use of other tools such as physical evidence is also equally important to verify the facts.

Even if lie detection tests are not foolproof, they can provide highly accurate results if the right equipment and procedures are used. Technological advancements continue to improve these tests to enhance their accuracy in using physiological responses such as facial micro-expressions, pupil dilation, body surface moisture, and heart rate among others.



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