Do Innocent People Fail Lie Detector Tests
Do Innocent People Fail Lie Detector Tests ?
Is it Possible to Fail in a Lie Detector Test If You’re Innocent?
As a polygraph examiner, we often get asked the question can an innocent person fail a polygraph test? The answer is it is possible. Usually, polygraph tests are taken by a polygraph examiner who observes a person’s body’s responses, incorrect outcomes, if they are telling the truth or not, a physiological response, and so on.
What is a Polygraph Test?
Polygraph tests are lie detectors that measure a person’s biophysical reactions to different questions. It observes your heart rate, answers to control questions or comparison questions, breathing, how Anxiety affects you when interrogated. Invented in 1921 in Berkeley, California.
In addition, it also showcases your unique physiological responses to particular topics. For example, if someone was sexually abused when young, asking relevant questions and irrelevant questions about that topic may trigger unique reactions both physically and physiologically in the person.
In short, the polygraph test does not exactly say if you are lying or not through your incorrect outcomes. It is rather indicated through your actions that you may be deceiving the lie detector expert.
How Does A Polygraph Test Work?
Firstly you have to go to a room where only you and the polygraph examiner will be present. Then in order to monitor your physiological reaction, a few types of equipment will be attached to you to monitor the lie detector test. Firstly a blood pressure cuff will get put on you to monitor your cardiovascular activity.
Then to monitor your skin conductivity, also known as Galvan skin or electrodermal response, an electrode will be attached to your fingertip. Furthermore, alongside these, other things used on you are recording devices and questioning techniques to detect lies.
Several electronic sensors will also be placed on your chest and abdominal areas to monitor your respiratory system. These devices mentioned above are used during a lie detector test to obtain accurate polygraph results.
Should You Take a Lie Detector Test
The answer to this question varies on your reasoning for taking a lie detector test. If you are someone who is criminally accused of something and your probation officers are asking you to take a polygraph test. Then it is safe to assume they are most probably trying to verify if you are lying or not and gather evidence against you.
For such a case, a piece of good advice will be to refrain from taking the lie detector test if you are guilty of the crime, especially for sex offenders and people involved in a bank robbery. However, it is wise to follow what your lawyer advises.
Furthermore, if you get asked to take a polygraph test by your office as a requirement for the hiring process, then it is recommended to take it. Moreover, your employer may ask you to take polygraph tests if money or documents get stolen from the office. For such instances, if you are an innocent person, the odds of failing a polygraph test are low. So such a test may save you from other hassles in the office. But be sure to hire a lawyer.
If you are looking to take lie detector tests with your friends for recreational purposes or for fun by hiring a private examiner, then it may be worth the experience.
How Accurate Is the Polygraph Test?
Polygraphs are known to be fairly accurate; otherwise, polygraph machines wouldn’t have been a common tool worldwide. With a few false positives and false negatives here and there, according to studies, a polygraph test is accurate 80% to 90% of the time. The percentages vary due to external reasons.
It may not be 100% accurate, but with scientific evidence, such tests are better at detecting lies or guilty people compared to your average person. Though, people may have lied about precise questions asked to them during the study. The rate of inaccuracy may be higher when lie detection tests are in real life cases resulting in more false positives or a fail in the test.
It is possible to wrongly pass the polygraph test with a decent idea of what a polygraph machine is and how it works. Besides, people who are very good at hiding stuff usually are able to beat a lie detector.
Research has shown that lie detectors are worse at detecting innocent people or someone who is telling the truth compared to a guilty person or a liar. There have been cases where half the people telling the truth did fail a polygraph test.
Can an Innocent Fail the Test?
As mentioned above, an innocent person can fail polygraph tests but may not be necessarily linked with lying. As polygraph results depend on physiological reactions and psychological behaviours, it is not the most accurate.
An innocent person may be under stress which may cause them to be nervous, resulting in heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. These signs may cause innocent people to wrongly fail a polygraph test.
Furthermore, Anxiety plays a significant role in the person taking the polygraph test. As the results depend on unique physiological responses, error rates may be high when someone is under the above-mentioned conditions. This may result in a person failing a polygraph which is one of its fundamental problems.
Even though having a certain response on a specific topic may indicate you aren’t telling the truth. It does not exactly mean you fail the test. These responses depend from person to person.
For these reasons, such polygraph evidence is generally inadmissible in court or any legal hearing.
How Do You Pass A Polygraph If You Are Nervous?
Scientific research studies show that most of the people who give polygraph tests have nervousness or Anxiety affect them before they take a polygraph test. Both the innocent and the guilty reacted similarly before giving the test.
If you are having nervousness issues but still want to pass a polygraph test; here’s how to
Do Not Overthink
One of the prime causes of nervousness is overthinking and high stress levels. Try to keep a clear head and when it gets filled with thoughts, take deep breaths and remain calm. Do not ask people who have already given the test about their experience. It will instead make you more nervous.
It Is Okay To Be Nervous
No one expects you to be perfect before giving a polygraph test. Even someone who is completely innocent may be nervous, which is totally normal. Being nervous will allow your examiner to get more accurate results of your physiological response when tested.
Take Your Time
Do not think you are bound to answer every question asked instantly. You can ask the examiner to repeat the question up to six times. It will be better to ask your examiner how many times you are allowed to repeat the question before it gets skipped.
Do not rush, as the hastiness when you are nervous may cause you to fail the polygraph test.
Can You Fail a Lie Detector Test if You Are Nervous?
Nervousness may result in a person failing a polygraph test. Even if you aren’t lying but because you are nervous, your blood pressure is high, and you are breathing heavily. As lie detectors cannot differentiate between Anxiety, nervousness and lying. They depend on your unique physiological response to determine if you are truthful or not. So nervousness may result in you failing the test.
However, the examiner usually understands when a person is nervous and when they are lying as they have years of experience. So usually, they will be able to figure out that you are just nervous and tell you to calm down. Additionally, they may also consider answers which show you are lying.
On top of that, if you are someone with medically certified Anxiety, PTSD, ADHD or Bi-Polar is it better to let your examiner know before taking the polygraph test.
What We Recommend for Curbing Anxiety
Anxiety is a common human response to stress and worry. It may end up becoming a severe issue. There are several ways to curb your Anxiety instantly to a point that we recommend. Such as
- Try making yourself understand that it’s just your nervous system entering and causing you to worry.
- Never criticise yourself for being anxious. Instead, let yourself know it is a healthy response to complicated situations, which is very typical.
Reality check is a clever way to stop yourself from being anxious. Ask yourself what are the odds of the things I am worried about actually happening. Is it clever of me to think something may go wrong? Maybe I am just stressed?
These are some steps we recommend trying for curbing Anxiety. Other methods may include sharing your Anxiety with someone, a mental break or medical help.
Now that you know most about polygraph testing and how innocent persons should pass or fail the test, now it’s your turn. If you’re accused of something that you didn’t do, or you’re struggling to find out the truth, let us help you.
Our chief examiner Jason Hubble is the secretary of the UK Polygraph Association and member of the American Polygraph Association and is perfectly capable of helping you in any cases.