Prosecuting the ‘Psychological Set’: Polygraph’s Silver Bullet Unmasked?

The formation of differential or emotional salience (a ‘psychological set’) with an examinee is required for a polygraph examination to be successful. This, according to polygraph proponents, ensures that an examinee will reply appropriately during the delivery of the polygraph examination’s in-test (questioning) phase. However, as defined by its regulating body, the polygraph technique The American Polygraph Association (APA) is a clinically static Westernized method that ignores human diversity (culture/ethnicity, quirks, degree of education, language competence, philosophies, and so on). Across the board, identical (one-size-fits-all) test protocols are used – a highly contentious methodology.

The goal of this study was to see how much certain intentional and unintentional human behaviour modification strategies can counterbalance claimed polygraph probity from an ontological and discursive standpoint, as well as to uncover concerns (potential flaws) about polygraph theory in the context of the psychological set. Furthermore, this paper aims to raise awareness of polygraph’s epistemological ambiguity and provide fuel for thought on its unadulterated application.

Author (S) Details

Friedo J. W. Herbig
Department of Criminology & Security Science, College of Law, University of South Africa, South Africa.

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