Detection of deception

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Research on the polygraph has not progressed over time in the manner of a typical scientific field … the field has not accumulated knowledge over time or strengthened its scientific underpinnings in any significant manner … What is remarkable, given the large body of relevant research, is that claims about the accuracy of the polygraph made today parallel those made throughout the history of the polygraph: practitioners have always claimed extremely high levels of accuracy, and these claims have rarely been reflected in empirical research. National Research Council (2003, pp. 102, 107) More than a dozen years after the publication of this thoroughgoing, comprehensive critique of polygraph testing by the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences, these judgments remain accurate characterizations of applied deception detection research. This unfortunate state of affairs persists despite the fact that many tens of thousands of people are subjected to polygraph tests every year, and there is no application of a psychophysiological procedure that has a more consequential effect on the lives of those subjected to it than polygraph tests. Moreover, the use of polygraphs has not abated but rather is increasing, especially by government agencies and by programs that manage sex offenders. Against this backdrop, it is imperative that more and better research be carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of applied detection deception and improve it. There are many relatively recent reviews and updates of the polygraph literature, including special issues of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback and Social Neuroscience in 2009, a special issue of the European Psychologist in 2014, special research topics devoted to deception research in Frontiers in Psychology and Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (annotated by Gamer & Ambach, 2014), three new books with over three dozen chapters devoted to the topic (Granhag, Vrij, & Verschuere, 2015; Raskin, Honts, & Kircher, 2014; Verschuere, Ben-Shakhar, & Meijer, 2011), as well as other reviews appearing since the publication of the third edition of the Handbook of Psychophysiology that provide excellent sources of insight, analysis, and criticism of this important psychophysiological application (Ben-Shakhar, 2008, 2012; Iacono, 2008a, 2008b, 2009; Iacono & Lykken, 2009; Iacono & Patrick, 2014; Meijer, Selle, Elber, & Ben-Shakhar, 2014; Meijer, Verschuere, Merckelbach, & Crombez, 2008; Rosenfeld, Ben-Shakhar, & Ganis, 2012; Rosenfeld, Hu, Labkovsky, Meixner, & Winograd, 2013; Verschuere, Ben-Shakhar, & Meijer, 2011; Vrij, 2008).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Psychophysiology, Fourth Edition
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781107415782
ISBN (Print)9781107058521
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

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