The validity of the Lie detector: Two surveys of scientific opinion

W. G. Iacono, D. T. Lykken

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83 Scopus citations


The widespread use of polygraph ( "lie detector") tests has important social and individual consequences. Courts asked to admit polygraph findings into evidence, as well as individuals asked to submit to polygraph tests, have a natural interest in the acceptance by the relevant scientific community of the polygraph technique. For this reason, we conducted mail surveys to obtain the opinions of 2 groups of scientists from relevant disciplines: members of the Society for Psychophysiological Research and Fellows of the American Psychological Association's Division 1 (General Psychology). Survey return rates were high (91% and 74%, respectively). Most of the respondents believed that polygraphic lie detection is not theoretically sound, claims of high validity for these procedures cannot be sustained, the lie test can be beaten by easily learned countermeasures, and polygraph test results should not be admitted into evidence in courts of law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-433
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1997


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