What is a polygraph?

The polygraph, also known as a lie detector, is an advanced device that records various physiological responses of the body, such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, and skin conductance, while the individual answers a series of questions. It is an effective tool for assessing the truthfulness of the responses.

 How does the polygraph work?

During a polygraph test, questions are asked to the subject, and the device monitors and records their physiological responses. Significant changes in these responses can indicate psychological stress, which is often associated with the act of lying, allowing examiners to assess the credibility of the responses.

 Is the polygraph reliable as a lie detector?

The polygraph is highly effective at indicating psychological stress and emotional responses associated with deception. Its reliability is enhanced by the skill and experience of the examiners who use established protocols and detailed analysis to interpret the results accurately.

In what contexts is the polygraph used?

The polygraph has a wide range of applications, from criminal investigations and security assessments to personnel selection processes and conflict resolution in personal relationships. Its ability to assess credibility makes it invaluable in any context where the truth is paramount.

 Can someone cheat the polygraph?

The advanced design of the polygraph and the examination methodology make it extremely difficult for individuals to effectively manipulate their physiological responses. The examiner’s experience plays a crucial role in administering the test and accurately interpreting the results.

 What does undergoing a polygraph test entail?

Participating in a polygraph test is a straightforward process that involves answering questions while connected to the device. Before the test, a pre-test interview is conducted to familiarize the subject with the procedure, ensuring a comfortable and transparent experience.

What benefits does the use of the polygraph offer?

The polygraph offers numerous benefits, including the ability to validate claims with high accuracy, deter deception, and provide peace of mind in situations where the truth is questioned. It is a powerful tool for strengthening trust in a variety of contexts.

Are polygraph results admissible in court?

Although admissibility varies by jurisdiction, the polygraph is recognized for its ability to provide objective evidence about the credibility of responses, being used in legal proceedings under certain conditions and as a complementary tool in the assessment of testimonies.

How is accuracy ensured in polygraph tests?

The accuracy of the polygraph is ensured through the use of experienced and trained examiners, state-of-the-art equipment, and the application of rigorous protocols. This approach ensures that the results are reliable and valid.

 What future awaits the polygraph as a credibility diagnostic tool?

The future of the polygraph looks bright, with technological advances promising to further increase its accuracy and effectiveness. The integration with new technologies and methods of analysis will strengthen its position as the most reliable and advanced credibility diagnostic tool available.

Becoming a Polygraph Examiner: Requirements and Profile

Who Can Become a Polygraph Examiner?

The role of a polygraph examiner is critical in ensuring the integrity and reliability of the polygraph as a tool for credibility assessment. Although it is not mandatory to have a university degree to become a polygraph examiner, candidates must possess a substantial cultural background and meet specific ethical and professional standards. Here we outline the key requirements and the ideal profile for aspiring polygraph examiners.

 Educational and Cultural Background

Substantial Cultural Background: Aspiring examiners should have a broad knowledge base and cultural awareness. This does not necessarily require a university degree, but a level of education and understanding that enables them to comprehend complex concepts, ethical dilemmas, and the nuances of human behavior and communication.

Specialized Training: Candidates must undergo specialized training in polygraphy, which covers the technical use of the polygraph machine, understanding physiological responses, and mastering the skills required to conduct tests effectively and ethically.

Ethical and Professional Profile

High Ethical Standards: Integrity is paramount. Aspirants must adhere to the highest ethical standards, ensuring fairness, respect, and confidentiality in all their professional activities.

Honesty and Trustworthiness: The credibility of the polygraph test relies heavily on the examiner’s honesty and ability to conduct tests without bias or prejudice.

No Criminal History: Candidates must be free from any past or present criminal records. A clean legal background is essential to uphold the integrity of the role and the trust placed in them by clients and the justice system.

Sense of Justice: A strong sense of justice and commitment to truth is crucial. Examiners must be dedicated to uncovering the truth, guided by principles of fairness and ethical conduct.

Immunity to Bribery: Examiners must be impervious to bribery and any form of corruption. Their commitment to truth and ethical standards must be unshakeable, ensuring that their findings and judgments are not influenced by external pressures or incentives.

Personal Qualities

Analytical Skills: Examiners need excellent analytical skills to interpret test results accurately and to distinguish between truthful and deceptive responses.

Communication Skills: Effective communication is vital. Examiners must be able to conduct pre-test interviews, explain the process clearly to the subjects, and handle post-test discussions with sensitivity and professionalism.

Emotional Intelligence: High emotional intelligence allows examiners to understand and empathize with the test subjects, facilitating a more comfortable and effective testing environment.

Ongoing Development and Integrity Checks

Continued Education: The field of polygraphy evolves with advancements in technology and psychology. Examiners are expected to continuously update their knowledge and skills through professional development courses and seminars.

Regular Integrity Assessments: To maintain their certification, examiners may undergo periodic integrity assessments and background checks to ensure they remain fit to practice and uphold the profession’s standards.

Regulation of Polygraph Use: Practice Standards

The use of the polygraph as a credibility assessment tool is regulated by a set of standards and ethical practices designed to ensure the integrity of the process and protect the rights of those examined. The American Polygraph Association (APA) and the European Polygraph Association (EPA) are two of the leading organizations that set these regulations. Though each operates within different geographical contexts, both share the goal of promoting professionalism and effectiveness in polygraph use.

Standards of the American Polygraph Association (APA)

The APA establishes guidelines covering examiner training, the conduct of tests, and the interpretation of results. These standards include:

Professional Training: Polygraph examiners must complete an APA-accredited training program that meets established instructional hours and covers all theoretical and practical aspects of polygraphy.

Ethical Conduct: Examiners are expected to adhere to a strict code of ethics, which includes respecting the dignity of all individuals examined and ensuring that participation in polygraph tests is voluntary.

Test Techniques: The APA recommends the use of validated testing techniques and prohibits practices that may mislead or cause psychological harm to subjects.

Standards of the European Polygraph Association (EPA)

The EPA promotes the ethical and effective use of the polygraph in Europe, with a set of norms reflecting a similar commitment to that of the APA but tailored to the European legal and cultural context. Its regulations include:

Certification and Continuing Education: Examiners must obtain recognized certification and commit to continuous education to stay abreast of advances in polygraph practice.

Privacy and Data Protection: Given the stringency of privacy laws in Europe, the EPA places special emphasis on the protection of personal data and ensuring that polygraph tests are conducted in compliance with these laws.

Transparency and Informed Consent: Subjects must be informed about the test process, including their rights and what the examination entails, ensuring their informed consent before proceeding.

Common Standards and Best Practices

Though the APA and EPA operate in different regions, there are several common principles and standards in their approach to polygraphy:

Integrity in Practice: Both associations emphasize the importance of integrity, honesty, and objectivity on the part of examiners.

Respect for Examinees: The privacy and dignity of individuals undergoing polygraph tests must be maintained.

Use of Validated Techniques: Both the APA and the EPA promote the use of scientifically validated techniques and methodologies to ensure the accuracy and reliability of polygraph test results.


Becoming a polygraph examiner is a career path that demands not only technical skill and knowledge but also a strong ethical foundation and a commitment to justice. The role is suited for individuals who not only seek to understand the science behind human behavior and physiological responses but also embody the principles of honesty, integrity, and fairness. With the right training and dedication to ethical standards, becoming a polygraph examiner can be a fulfilling profession, contributing significantly to the pursuit of truth in various fields.

The regulation of polygraph use through standards set by the American Polygraph Association and the European Polygraph Association ensures that this tool is used in a professional, ethical, and effective manner. These norms not only protect the rights of the individuals examined but also strengthen the credibility and reliability of polygraph testing as a vital tool for credibility assessment.