Terms Relating to Lie Detectors Explained – Letter F
A term coined by Arther (1970) for the deliberate placement of a false
distracter item among other items on a Peak of Tension test that the examiner
has hinted is the correct item. Arther reported it to be a useful diversion of
attention of the innocent examinee who does not know the true key or critical
item. The false key is the most plausible item in a list for the naive examinee,
though it is by design the incorrect item. The false key is used exclusively in
Known Solution Peak of Tension tests. No published research is available on
the use of the false key.
See: Fight, Flight and Freeze.
The failure to detect the presence of a particular event or item. A false
negative in PDD refers to the incorrect decision that deception was not
practiced by the examinee. Also called a Type-2 error.
The false detection of something that is not actually present. In PDD, it
is the incorrect decision that deception was practiced by the examinee. Also
called a Type-1 error.
Fear of Detection Model
One of several theoretical explanations for the psychophysiological
mechanisms underlying arousal during deception. According to this ‘concern-
based’ model, examinees physiologically respond to test questions to which
they are lying out of concern that their deceptions will be detected and adverse
consequences will follow. The greater the fear, the greater will be the response.
While incomplete and unproven, this remains a prevailing theory taught to
PDD practitioners because it appears to have some face-validity. Unfortunately
it ignores the large body of scientific literature dealing with cognition, emotion
and behavioral conditioning. One obvious exception relates to those instances
where the PDD test continues to be effective even when there are no or trivial
consequences for detection, or when directed-lie comparison questions are
Fear of Error
Concept forwarded by James Matte to account for a portion of false
positive errors in polygraphy. According to the theory, the innocent examinee
is inclined to physiologically react to relevant questions if he is excessively
concerned about a polygraph error. To correct this confound, Matte advocates
the insertion of an “inside track” pair of questions among the test questions.
Empirical support for the inside track is not yet available. See: Matte (1996);
Nelson & Cushman (2011).
In polygraphy, the term refers to a specific aspect of a waveform, pattern
or measurement in a tracing. Features are the fundamental components of
chart interpretation on which scoring and decision rules depend. Currently
there are 12 individually validated manual scoring features. In the respiration
channel they are: apnea, baseline increase, suppression, increase in the
inhalation/exhalation ratio, and increase in cycle time (slowing). For the
electrodermal channel they are peak amplitude, complexity, and duration. In
the cardiograph, the features are amplitude and duration. The finger
plethysmograph relies on the duration and magnitude of the constriction of the
pulse amplitude. Other features are sometimes taught as part of scoring
systems, though their validity is disproven or absent. See: Kircher & Raskin
(1988); Bell, Raskin, Honts & Kircher (1999).
Scientific investigation using actual PDD cases conducted by practicing
examiners on suspects, witnesses, and victims. In contrast to laboratory
Fight, Flight, Freeze
Three stereotypic behavioral responses to threat, sometimes simply
called F3. The physiological responses concomitant to these behaviors are the
same, namely mobilizing bodily resources for an expenditure of energy, and
narrowing attentional focus to the features of the threat. This preparation
activity of the body has been used as a rudimentary explanation for the pattern
of arousal responses that are recorded during PDD. Handler and Honts (2007;
2008) offered an alternative based on the Behavioral Inhibition System theory
proposed by Gray and Mc Naughton (2003).
Finger of Death
Somewhat whimsical informal expression for a tracing pattern
sometimes found in the electrodermal channel that is putatively associated
with deception. It is the sudden plunging of the electrodermal tracing shortly
after the presentation of a relevant question followed by a normal return to
baseline, creating the visual impression of a “finger.” The sudden drop and
recovery may or may not have been preceded by a phasic response. Some
writers have attributed the phenomenon to a loss of contact between the
sensors and the skin, such as when certain types of physical countermeasures
are practiced. The cause of the phenomenon is not well understood, and it has
not been scientifically established as a reliable indicator of deception.
Sometimes called the devil’s finger.
Finger Pulse Amplitude (FPA)
Cardiographic measure of the pulse wave recorded by plethysmograph
(both occlusion and photo type) at the finger. Constrictions in amplitude are
associated with sympathetic nervous system arousal. See: Handler & Krapohl,
(2007); Kircher & Raskin (1988).
Statistical measure for the degree of agreement among multiple raters
for their classifications of items. In PDD, it provides a metric for the reliability
of decisions among different scorers interpreting the same test charts, and is
the preferred method for gauging inter-rater agreement. See: Fleiss (1971).
An irrelevant item in a Concealed Information Test. Sometimes called
padding, buffer, control, or non-critical item.
forensic psychophysiological detection of deception examination
A process that encompasses all activities that take place between a
forensic psychophysiologist and an examinee during a specific series of
interactions. These interactions include the pretest interview; the use of the
polygraph to collect physiological data from the examinee while presenting a
series of tests; the diagnostic phase, which includes the analysis of
physiological data in correlation with the questions asked during each test to
support a diagnostic decision; and the posttest phase, which may or may not
include interrogation of the examinee. See: Yankee (1995).
Proposed alternate title for polygraph examiner. It is a person who has
successfully completed an academic program in Forensic Psychophysiology,
including the appropriate internship, which has been inspected and accredited
by the American Polygraph Association.
Defined by Dr. William J. Yankee in 1992 as the science that deals with
the relationship and applications of PDD tests to the legal system. It is the
academic discipline that provides the student, the practitioner, and the
researcher with the theoretical and applied psychological, physiological, and
psychophysiological fundamentals for a thorough understanding of PDD tests,
and the skills and qualifications for conducting PDD examinations. The
modifier “forensic” delineates and delimits this discipline from the broader
discipline of psychophysiology. See: Yankee (1992).
A particular order of question presentations, or rules that govern the
order, along with the types of questions. “Format” is sometimes incorrectly
used interchangeably with “technique,” a broader term that encompasses not
only the format, but all practices in the pretest and test phase.
Frame of Reference
The circumstances or facts (crime report, criminal complaint, victim
allegation, etc.) presented to the polygraph examiner which form the basis for
the PDD examination. See: Holden (2000).
“Friendly Polygrapher” hypothesis
A hypothesis proposed by Martin Orne that a deceptive examinee would
not be as detectible by an examiner who conducts a polygraph examination on
behalf of the examinee’s attorney because the examinee has no fear of adverse
consequences. There are no studies supporting this hypothesis with the CQT,
and all field studies that have investigated it have failed to find the effect. See:
Honts (1997); Ishida & Sevilla (1981); Matte & Reuss (1990); Orne (1973);
Functional Magnetic Resonance Image (fMRI)
An image of the brain processes created from the metabolism of
neurons. There are three types of fMRI imaging, which use blood flow, blood
volume and blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signals. The BOLD
method is the most common method used as it has the highest functional
contrast. As the brain regions are engaged in a task they require more blood.
The fMRI is an image of changes in blood flow based on task demands. The
fMRI is one tool being researched to find central nervous system indicators of
deception. See: Kozel, Johnson, Grenesko, Laken, Kose, Lu, Pollina, Ryan &
George (2009); Pollina, Horvath, Denver, Dollins & Brown (2008).