Anyone ever taken a polygraph (lie detector) test?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Clint B, Mar 7, 2004.

  1. Clint B

    Clint B Second Unit

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    Hey, everybody. After being unemployed for waaay too long, I may finally be on my way to finding work. I've applied for a 911 operator job in the city where I live (although it sounds kind of cool, I wish I could find something more in line with my degree and skills, but what can you do?). Anyway, they require that I take a polygraph test as a part of the employment screening process. I don't have anything to hide, but like most people, I did have a few "youthful indiscretions" (they want to know about them, trust me!). However, this lie detector test has me kind of nervous, probably because I've never taken one. If anyone here has ever taken one, can you please let me know what I should expect? If you can also offer me tips to make the test go as quickly and as smoothly as possible, I'd appreciate that, too. The test is this Thursday (March 11). Thanks for any help that you can give.
     
  2. Don Black

    Don Black Screenwriter

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    The reason polygraphs are so sketchy is because the opinion of the conductor of the test is subjectively key. The way they work is by comparing various physiological reactions from base questions to the real questions. So if you force your body to "actively" react to their benign questions (e.g., is your name John Doe), then your reaction to their real questions won't be as transparent and you can "beat" the test.
     
  3. Devin U

    Devin U Second Unit

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    They sometimes will detect a false "lie" if you hesitate too much on the question. My brother in law, when taking his for the police department, was asked if he ever participated in beastiallity. He was shocked at the question, and hesitated. It was marked as a lie, and he had to take another test to take care of the indecicive answers. I think he said they show you a list of questions they may ask, so you wont be too shocked.
     
  4. Julian Reville

    Julian Reville Screenwriter

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    I took one. The operator said I was controlling my breathing too much, but I was just trying to stay calm.
     
  5. Dave_Brown

    Dave_Brown Supporting Actor

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    There shouldn't be any surprises on the test leading you to hesitate too long. Typically, the way it works is they will sit you down and explain what goes where, what function it serves, stuff like that. Then they will ask if you have any questions.
    Next, they usually will want to prove to you that it works by making you lie on a test run through. The way it was done for me was I was told to pick any number between 1-10 and keep it in mind. Then I was to answer "no" to each time the reviewer asked "Is it number 1? 2?..." all the way down. When it got to my number (7) I still said no but it registered as a lie. Actually, by the time he got to 5 you could see my pulse start to change as I knew the lie was coming up. It spiked out right on 7 then slowly went back down to the base line.

    Then they should go through every question they are going to ask you on the test prior to turning it on. What they don't tell you is that they will change up the order, which did throw me for a second.
    And despite what they show on TV, the only questions they will ask you are either "yes" or "no". That is how they judge if you are telling the truth or not. They will compare your base lie from earlier with any lies or truths during the real questions.

    Now if you want to establish a false base line, you have to change your involuntary reactions to the questions you can't be lying to ("Is your name XXXXX?" and you say yes will be a base truth). Not that I condone trying to fool the machine, but a quick and easy way to alter your breating and cause a slight spike in your pulse rate is to quickly clench the muscles you use to hold back when you have to pee. Only do this on the truth questions such as your name or the color of your hair. Don't do it on anything that might be sketchy and the test should be more balanced from start to finish.

    And most importantly, just relax and be honest. They are obviously looking to hire you or at least give you an interview or they wouldn't make you go through the test. Take that as a good sign and just go in there relaxed and comfortable. Get sleep the night before and stay away from any caffeine the morning of the exam.
     
  6. Jean Luc

    Jean Luc Agent

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    Watch Meet the Parents, then you're good to go.
     
  7. Bill Griffith

    Bill Griffith Supporting Actor

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    There are 3 things a lie detector will tell you.

    Your Lying
    Your not Lying
    Inconclusive

    I was always inconclusive, no matter what I did. Even when they were trying to run the base it was inconclusive.
     
  8. Nathan*W

    Nathan*W Screenwriter

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    I recommend people to the polygraph for employment with us and help our examiner with his paperwork and filing. Just last month we purchased a new computerized polygraph instrument that I've been playing around with.

    Dave_Brown gave a description that is accurate to happens at our agency. This type of activity is called a countermeasure, and I wouldn't try it. Many new instruments (including ours) have countermeasure detection equipment that can detect this type of "clenching" as well as other methods. Also, if you are caught employing countermeasures, your application will toast on the spot.

    Your best chance comes from telling the whole truth. Go through the questions one by one with your examiner and he will modify the questions so you can comfortably give a "not deceptive" response to each one. For example, if you listed on your app. that you stole some CD's from the music store, the examiner will give you a hard time about it (why'd you do it? do you regret it?) and then will modify and personalize his "Have you ever stolen anything of value?" question to "Other than the CD's, have you ever stolen anything of value?" Then you can say NO and be truthful. The examiner knows that everyone makes mistakes, and it's how you've learned from them and matured is what counts.
     
  9. LDfan

    LDfan Supporting Actor

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    take a valium and that should keep you calm and cool through the test.

    Jeff
     
  10. Bill_D

    Bill_D Supporting Actor

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    I have taken 2 polygraphs tests in my life. The first indicated that I was being deceptive/lying about dealing drugs and second said that I was being deceptive/lying about having a pre-existing medical condition. Neither of the scenarios have ever been true in any way, shape or form.

    From my experience, I tend to ignore the reports of polygraph tests results. It is incoherent babble to me. Hopefully no one will ever try to use the results of a polygraph to convince me of anything.
     
  11. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Well a number of people have commented on how you can trick a polygraph, but the truth is a polygraph only measures physiological reactions, and is useless (scientifically) as a lie detector.

    Basically, the big lie, is that a polygraph is a lie detector. It's only real use is if you believe it's a lie detector, then they can tell you you're lying and hope you'll crack. I believe it's fairly routine to tell that to suspects regardless of the results.

    There's a reason that these are inadmissable in court. I'm not sure if you can be denied a job based on one, but if so, that's just ridiculous.
     
  12. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

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    No...yes!..I mean NO!
     
  13. Nathan*W

    Nathan*W Screenwriter

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    In Virginia, you can't utilize a pre-employment polygraph, unless it's for a law enforcement job. Every Federal LEA also polys. There is an interesting website against polygraphs, aptly named www.antipolygraph.org which also may interest you.

    I personally consider polygraph to be just one of many investigative tools at my disposal.
     
  14. Cam McFarland

    Cam McFarland Supporting Actor

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    I have taken one (pre-employment) polygraph test &
    when I was telling the truth, it said was lying, lol.
     
  15. Micah Lloyd

    Micah Lloyd Stunt Coordinator

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    I've taken one. The memorable part was the long pauses between each yes/no question. Enough time to contemplate the answer you gave and to start second-guessing yourself. You sit there looking at a blank wall while the sounds of the needles scratching out the results behind you. You're thinking: Wait, did I? I wonder if... hey, what about...

    Fun!
     
  16. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    >> clench the muscles you use to hold back when you have to pee
     
  17. Steve_Tk

    Steve_Tk Cinematographer

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    In most law enforcement jobs you can be denied employment if you fail the test.

    Just relax, you said you have nothing to hide, unless you really do.

    I've taken one a few times, most of the questions are time based, IE: Have you sold illegal drugs in the past 5 years, have you used marijuana in the last year.

    Background investigators do not usually care what you did when you were a minor, meaning you stole a CD when you were 13 then it doesn't really matter. If you stole cars, that will matter.

    Best thing to do is just be honest about your 'indiscretions' and don't lie.

    And remember, lie detectors do not detect lies, they detect physiological reactions. And they go through the questions before they even hook up you to the machine.
     
  18. BrettB

    BrettB Producer

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    Just remember, it's not a lie if you believe it.
    - Costanza

    [​IMG]
     
  19. EugeneR

    EugeneR Second Unit

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    Ahh, polygraph test. All the accuracy of a coin flip. Here's a very interesting article on polygraph examinations which among other things discusses a study on the efficacy of polygraph tests done by the National Research Council at the request of the Department of Energy following the Wen Ho Li incident. The article is by some of the authors of the NRC study.

    "On the basis of field reports and indirect scientific evidence, we believe that polygraph testing is likely to have some utility for deterring security violations, increasing the frequency of admissions of such violations, deterring employment applications from potentially poor security risks, and increasing public confidence in national security organizations. Such utility derives from beliefs about the procedure’s validity, which are distinct from actual validity or accuracy."

    And

    "It may be harmless if a television show fails to discriminate between science and science fiction, but it is dangerous when government does not know the difference. In our work conducting the NRC study, we found that many officials in intelligence, counterintelligence, and law enforcement agencies believe that if there are spies, saboteurs, or terrorists working in sensitive positions in the federal government, the polygraph tests currently used for counterintelligence purposes will find most of them. Many such officials also believe that experienced examiners can easily identify people who use countermeasures to try to beat the test. Scientific evidence does not support any of these beliefs; in fact, it goes contrary to all of them."

    ARTICLE

    An interesting tidbit for those who won't read the article: Remember Wonder Woman's "truth lasso"? William Moulton Marston who invented the polygraph also "invented" Wonder Woman.
     
  20. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    I once worked with a computer expert, who was telling us a story that he used to do classified work for the NSA (as an external contractor), and that the employees of the contractor working on the matter had to undergo polygraphs.

    As he put it, he envisaged the tester to be a rather geeky fellow with narrow dark tie, white short-sleeved shirt, large plastic-rimmed specs etc (this was in the late 60s). Sure enough, said tester fit profile to a tee.

    Prior to the test, our man decided he was going to have some fun with the tester. The whole week before the test, he psyched himself into thinking, "I am having an affair with the man's wife, I am having an affair with the man's wife".

    On the day of the test, things went as usual, and at the end, the tester asked " Is there anything else you haven't told me that you should tell me?"
    "No." Spike -- lie!

    "All right, what is it you haven't told me?"
    "Ummmm, ahhhhh, I'm having an affair with your wife" No spike -- truth...

    Long wait.

    "You set me up, didn't you?"
    "Yes!"

    Oh well.
     

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