Australian Lie Detection Polygraph Labs

Above Picture of former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie taking the test over policy issues (Failed) Just before he amalgamated councils. 

Beating the Polygraph 

Most of these questions have been answered by research. Listed below is a summary of the research findings and the scientific journal references.

The short answer is no method sold or offered on the internet or elsewere that will change an outcome on Polygraph test results.

In short you dont beat a polygraph it records with 100% efficiency. The interpretation of the data is the key to a successful outcome that has more to do with the test format, scoring method and examiner than it does with the polygraph instrument itself. A good examiner is a critcal component of the Polygraph Test.

That said the research below did not look at if the examiner could tell if ways to beat the test were being used only if the result was changed due to the application of freely available information on these methods on the internet. The result in all cases was it did not change anything only make it easier for the examiner to catch the guilty subjects in some cases . (Honts, Alloway 2007).

Scientific Journal articles:

Legal and Criminological Psychology Volume 12, Issue 2, pages 311-320 . September 2007  Charles R. Honts Phd , Wendy R. Alloway 2007

Results. There were no significant effects of providing information on the validity of the CQT. However, the reported use of countermeasures was associated with a lower probability of truthfulness. Results of the debriefing questionnaire were found to support predictions made by the theory of the CQT.

Conclusions. Concerns that readily available information will enable guilty individuals to produce false-negative errors seem unfounded. Moreover, the results actually indicate that the use of countermeasures was associated with a lower probability of truthfulness, which was exactly the opposite outcome predicted by the CQT critics.

Honts, C. R., Raskin, D. C., & Kircher, J. C. (1994). Mental and Physical countermeasures to reduce the accuracy of polygraph tests. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79, 252-259.

Conclusions: "The possibility that countermeasures might be used to defeat or distort the CQT has raised questions about its usefulness. However, the spontaneous use of countermeasures by untrained subjects has been found to be ineffective against the CQT. Furthermore, providing detailed information about the nature of the CQT and possible countermeasures does not seem to effect accuracy rates"  

Here they provide subjects with detailed information about how the test works and offer possible countermeasures. Had no effect on outcomes.

Rovner, L.I., Raskin, D. C. and Kircher, J.C. (1979) Effects of information and practice on detection of deception. Psychophysiology, 16, 197-198. 

Horowitz, s.w., Kircher,J.C.,Honts,C.R.and Raskin,D.C.(1997) The role of comparison questions in physiological detection of deception. Psychophysiology,34, 108-115

Rovner,L.I.(1986) The accuracy of physiological detection of deception for subjects with prior knowledge. Polygraph , 15, 1-39.

It is also of interest to note that most people think they can beat the lie detector , research on this subject clearly shows this is not easy to do and the average person would not be able to achieve it in a real life testing setting.

The research here quite clearly shows the information freely available on the internet does not change outcomes. In fact it in some research it actually made subjects easier to detect.

Here is an Example of this research being put to the test :

Can I Beat a Lie Detector?

I always tell the truth. But not today.

Listen to this story on NPR's Day to Day Listen to this story on NPR's Day to Day.

Illustration by Nina FrenkelI am sitting on a pad that sends an electronic signal to a computer every time I move my body. Circling my chest and abdomen are two rubber tubes, the pneumographs, which monitor my breathing. Tiny metal electrodermal plates secured to the index and ring fingers of my right hand with Velcro strips are measuring how much I sweat. A blood-pressure cuff is inflated tight around my left arm. Interrogating me about my moral failings is Darryl DeBow, owner of the Virginia School of Polygraph. I am lying my head off to him, just like—depending on your politics—Bill Clinton or George W. Bush.

I'm also flexing my anus as if I'm in a proctological triathlon—but more on that later.

For this "Human Guinea Pig," the column in which I do stuff you'd rather not do yourself, my plan is to see if I can beat a lie detector test. Although I'm a person of impeccable ethics, the whole idea of taking a polygraph exam, let alone trying to outfox it, has me in a state of fretfulness resembling Lady Macbeth in the fifth act. (OK, maybe I more resemble Ben Stiller facing Robert De Niro in the polygraph scene in Meet the Parents.)

First, I learned, I had to understand the types of questions I was being asked. Polygraphers generally ask both "control" and "relevant" questions. Control questions are an unnerving tour of your past transgressions. An example might be (not that I was asked this), "Have you ever noticed that the dog has taken a dump in the house but pretended you didn't so your spouse will clean it up?" The relevant questions are pointedly specific about what the exam is really trying to uncover. For instance (and not that I was asked this, either), "Do you know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried?"

To prepare myself, I read online advice on how to fool the machine.  I also spent $19.99 for a seven-page manual , which promised, "With the techniques in this manual you will be able to fool the machine so that you can successfully pass your exam no matter what!"

The purpose of the control questions is not actually to find out whether you stick your spouse with the dirty work, but how your body responds to anxiety-provoking questions. It's the relevant questions the examination is really designed to answer. So, if you didn't have anything to do with Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance, your confident denials about his whereabouts will elicit a milder response than to the control questions. But if you were involved, and said you weren't, then your guilty knowledge should create Mount Everests on the graph.

My online research said that beating the machine was easy. During the control questions I simply had to send the needles into a frenzy. Then, when I lied on the relevant questions, the needles (actually the simulated needles—polygraphs have gone digital and the examiner is looking at a computer screen) would remain calm. All that was required to cause the frenzy was the activation of a powerful weapon already in my possession: my sphincter. As the $19.99 manual explained, "[S]lowly flex your anus." somewhat more romantically described the action as an "anal pucker."

Both warned not to overdo it, or get my buttocks muscles involved, lest the gauge I was sitting on reveal my squeezes. If the examiner picked up that I was using this or any other countermeasure, the session would be ended and I would be branded as deceptive. To perfect my technique I needed to practice daily, occasionally sitting on my hands to make sure my buttocks remained inert. Though I did my exercises.

Lie detectors have been controversial since they were first used during the early 20thcentury. Even the matter of who should be given recognition for the creation of the modern lie detector is a matter of dispute. According to the National Research Council, credit—or blame—belongs to psychologist William Marston, who made another contribution to popular culture that has also sent hearts racing for decades. He is the creator of Wonder Woman.

Marston was an expert witness in a 1923 murder case in which he argued that polygraphs should be admissible. An appellate court was not persuaded as to their scientific reliability, and ever since polygraphs largely have been excluded from trials. Despite this, the federal government and local law-enforcement agencies are ever-larger consumers of polygraph exams. They are used not only to try to make people confess to crimes, but also as an employee-screening tool and to this end are very effective. 

Illustration by Nina Frenkel

Armed with this knowledge, and a pucker tighter than a baby sucking on a lemon, I go to meet DeBow. With his ramrod bearing and buzz-cut hair, he looks just like the former deputy sheriff that he is. I'm already intimidated. Since he's not trying to divine whether I kidnapped a Teamsters boss, he comes up with a clever scenario to test my honesty. He sends me upstairs where, he says, a man is sitting at a desk. I then have a choice of demanding the man give me money, or politely leaving. If I take the money, DeBow tells me, I will be committing a robbery. I walk up the stairs, take a $20 bill, hide it in my pocket, and return to DeBow.

Then we go into a little room with a computer monitor and the rest of DeBow's equipment. DeBow places me in a chair opposite him to conduct the standard pre-polygraph interview. I have read that since everyone has done something naughty, when I'm asked I should just admit my minor transgressions. I'm impressed that within minutes DeBow has moved from innocuous biographical questions (name, place of birth) to an exploration of my tortured family relationships and my thieving past. When he asks if I've ever stolen anything, I acknowledge that on about half a dozen occasions in my late teens I shoplifted magazines. He reacts as if I'm Ma Barker reincarnated. I try to laugh it off, but I feel guilty.

Then he asks me if I took the money from the man upstairs. I look calmly and directly at him and answer, "No." For about 45 minutes he reviews my childhood and my criminal inclinations, every so often interrupting these reveries to ask again if I stole the money. I keep feeling I should try to take charge of the interview, like Sharon Stone in her provocative, leg-crossing (and uncrossing) interrogation scene in Basic Instinct. Of course, to carry that off it helps to look like Sharon Stone.

Finally DeBow hooks me up. When he's done, I feel trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey. He goes over the series of 10 questions he's going to ask me. It is obvious which ones are controls ("Have you ever committed a serious, undetected crime?" "Since being a journalist, have you ever lied to make a story more than it was?") and which ones are relevant ("Today, did you take that money from the man upstairs?" "Did you steal that money?").

As he asks each control question, I do my flexing and two other techniques the Web sites recommend: I slightly alter my breathing . In response to every relevant question, I lie and say I didn't take the cash. We go over the series of questions several times and by the end, even though there is no longer a Soviet Union, and even though I have never spied for it, I feel like confessing that I have.

DeBow has yet another series of questions he wants to ask me, but first he says, in an exasperated tone, that I need to stop doing my erratic breathing. I don't know if he doesn't mention the sphincter thing because I am such a master at it, or because he's too polite. I drop the breathing but keep the squeezing. His new questions are pointed. "If you stole the money was it a $100 bill?" "Was it a $10 bill," etc., through the denominations. I reply "no" to each. When he finishes this he turns to me and says, "You want to give me the money back?" I try to pretend I don't have it, but he assures me that I failed the exam. When I ask him to prove it, he shows me the response to when he asked if I'd stolen a $20 bill. My sweat glands were releasing a Nile of guilt.

DeBow agrees with the computer-generated score on my overall exam that there was a 99 percent chance I was being deceptive when I denied the robbery. But he says he hadn't even needed to hook me up to know that. During our pre-interview, he says, it was obvious when I was lying. During most of the pre-interview I was as twitchy as a picnicker sitting on a fire-ant nest. But I'd become uncharacteristically wooden each time he asked about the money.

He also says that if I were not a journalist he would have ended the examination within a few minutes because of all my stunts. He had noticed the sphincter thing, he says. He shows me it was hard to miss since every time I did it I created a spike on the computer resembling the Empire State building.

As we review the charts it turns out that when he'd asked me if I'd ever lied to make a story better and I said "no," my breathing, sweat-gland, and blood-pressure responses made me look like a combination of Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass. DeBow reassures me that just meant he'd come up with a good control question—one that got my anxieties flowing. But there was a bigger reaction when I actually lied. "You try to be a good liar," he says. "But you suck at it." I take that as a compliment.

Is there something you've always wanted to do but were too scared or embarrassed to try? Ask the Human Guinea Pig to do it for you. E-mail me your ideas

The popular myth busters show tried this as well and demonstrated that beating a polygraph is not easy they could not do it ,as they would say myth busted.

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