Terms Relating to Lie Detectors Explained – Letter H
Adaptation to a stimulus over time. As an organism habituates to a
stimulus or environment, its response diminishes both in intensity and
frequency. In PDD, habituation has been found within tests, but little or none
between tests. See: Dollins, Cestaro, & Pettit (1998); Kircher, Raskin, & Honts
Tendency of an observer to be unduly influenced by a single trait of an
individual. This term was coined by Thorndike in 1920 in the context of
psychological assessment. For the PDD examiner, it is a potential source of
error if subject-examiner interactions are factored into the final PDD decision.
See: O’Sullivan (2003); Thorndike (1920).
Rate of ventricular contractions, usually measured in beats per minute.
It is one index of physiological arousal. Some recent research indicates that
after stimulus onset, cardiac arousal takes the form of an immediate decrease
in heart rate, if the response is an orienting response (OR). Heart rate and the
interbeat interval are reciprocals of one another.
Term for frequency, in cycles per second. For example, a heart rate of 80
beats per minute would equal 1.33 hertz. Frequency measures in
psychophysiology are often reported in hertz, particularly when identifying
engineering specifications of instrumentation. Named for German physicist
Heinrich R. Hertz. Sometimes called cycles per second (cps).
Chemical symbol for the element mercury. Millimeters of mercury is the
reference for measures of pressure, such as barometric and blood pressure.
Conventional polygraph notation for air pressure in the sphygmomanometer is
gauged in millimeters of mercury (i.e., 72 mm Hg). Hg stands for hydrargyrum,
from Greek for water and silver. Sometimes called quicksilver.
Hidden Comparison Question
Question designed to evoke a response from a truthful person, but
appears to be relevant to the examinee, and therefore its true purpose is
concealed. Useful for testing victims or those knowledgeable in CQT formats.
Sometimes called disguised comparison question.
Critical item in the Known Solution Peak of Tension test. It is called
hidden because it is not known to be the critical question to the innocent
examinee, and it is embedded in a list of apparently similar questions. There is
one key per test.
An expression referring to an apparently free choice that offers no
genuine alternative. It was named after Thomas Hobson, a stable owner in the
16th century, who offered patrons the horse nearest the door, or none at all.
For Hobson’s customers, there was the illusion of choice, but no actual
options. Hobson’s Choice is used in polygraphy when the probable-lie
questions are developed in the pretest interview. The examinee feels as if he or
she must pass this question to pass the examination. During the pretest
interview the question is presented and refined until the examinee chooses to
deceive rather than to accept the much less desirable option of acknowledging
socially proscribed behaviors. Truthfulness is not a true choice in that
circumstance, and therefore the examinee’s decision to lie is based not on a
free choice but on a Hobson’s Choice. The lack of alternatives or “escapes,”
which is associated with a state of “learned helplessness,” may be a mechanism
in the arousal level. See: Vendemia (2002).
Homeostasis is a term used within the scientific community to describe
the maintenance of the internal viability of organisms. The word homeostasis
is derived from the Greek homeo, means “same,” while stasis means “stable;”
thus, “remaining stable by staying the same.” Walter Cannon coined the term
“homeostasis” to refer to the processes by which constancy of the fluid matrix
is maintained. Claude Bernard declared “All the vital mechanisms have only
one object, to preserve constant the condition of the internal environment.”
Studies in physiology and medicine have interpreted that statement to mean
certain aspects of the internal milieu are fixed at a specific set point. The
historical concept of homeostasis is the basis of modern concepts of autonomic
regulation and control. Also see allostasis.
Hope of Error
Concept introduced by James Matte, and a central component of his
Quadri-Track Technique. Because guilty examinees usually stand to lose
something of importance if their deceptions are uncovered by the polygraph,
Matte argues that they are hopeful that there will be an error in the outcome.
Alternatively, truthful subject are being deceptive to probable lie comparison
questions, and they too might be hopeful for an error to occur. During testing
Matte includes a direct question regarding the examinee’s hope of an error, and
scores the question as a relevant question. See: Matte (1996); Matte & Reuss
(1989); Nelson & Cushman, (2011).
Horizontal Scoring System
A method devised by Gordon and Cochetti in the 1980s. All responses
within each channel are ranked from largest to smallest; ranks assigned to
comparison questions are given positive values, while those to relevant
questions receive negative values. For example, if a test had three each of
relevant and comparison questions, and the magnitude of the responses in a
given channel resulted in an order of R3, R1, C1, R2, C3, and C2, their values
would be designated as -6, -5, +4, -3, +2, and +1, respectively. This method is
repeated for all channels in all tests and then summed for a grand total.
Thresholds suggested by Gordon and Cochetti were two points per relevant
question per test, and a minimum of two tests. Because of the ranking
approach, this scoring system may be limited to single-issue testing situations.
Additionally, some of the diagnostic criteria and transformation procedures
have not been shown to be empirically supported. See: Gordon (1999); Gordon
& Cochetti (1987); Gordon, Mohamed, Faro, Platek, Ahmad & Williams (2005);
Krapohl, Gordon & Lombardi (2008); Nelson & Handler (2011).
Informal parlance for the relevant questions.
Device used by Cesare Lombroso at the end of the 19th century to detect
changes in blood pressure during deception, though the hydrosphygmograph
that had been invented years earlier for medical purposes. It consisted of a
container of water and a rubber seal through which an examinee’s fist was
placed into the water. Once the container was sealed, changes in relative blood
volume changes were transferred to the closed system and could be recorded
with tubing leading to a recording pen that wrote on a smoked drum. This is
the first mechanical device reported in the literature used specifically for
deception tests. See: Trovillo (1939).
Increase in rate and depth of respiration.
Altered state of consciousness in which the subject is very receptive to
suggestion and direction. Hypnosis has been a concern to PDD practitioners
because it is thought to be a possible undetectable countermeasure. In a
highly suggestible state, guilty subjects could conceivably have memories of
their crimes blocked, altered, or replaced so that physiologic responsiveness
would be unreliable for diagnosing deception. It could also be used to enhance
desensitization training, or autonomic conditioning. The little research on
hypnosis has not conclusively settled the issue. See: Weinstein, Abrams, &
Gibbons (1970); Timm (1991).
Prominence on the palm corresponding with the musculature of the little
finger. One of the most productive recording sites, along with the thenar
eminence, for electrodermal activity. See Handler, Nelson, Krapohl & Honts