Current status of forensic lie detection with the comparison question technique: An update of the 2003 National Academy of Sciences report on polygraph testing

William G. Iacono, Gershon Ben-Shakhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fifteen years have elapsed since a report was released by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on the scientific status of polygraph testing. The NAS report concluded that the scientific basis of the comparison question technique (CQT) was weak, the extant research was of low quality, the polygraph profession's claims for the high accuracy of the CQT were unfounded, and, although the CQT has greater than chance accuracy, its error rate is unknown. Polygraph proponents argue that current research indicates that the CQT has 90% or better accuracy, the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences' (2003) analysis supports this accuracy claim, and the CQT qualifies as legally admissible scientific evidence. We review the scientific literature that has appeared since the appearance of the NAS publication, including a new method for estimating polygraph accuracy. We show that the NAS report has been misrepresented and misinterpreted by those who support use of the CQT in forensic settings. We conclude that the quality of research has changed little in the years elapsing since the release of the NAS report, and that the report's landmark conclusions still stand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-98
Number of pages13
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

Keywords

  • American Polygraph Association
  • Comparison question test
  • Field studies
  • Paired examinations
  • Validity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

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