Polygraph tests are used more and more frequently now by many companies. Businesses must be aware of the situations where polygraph tests should be used and also at what point to use them, if they need answers.
A reality of life is that people lie. And as many law enforcement officials have been trained, when people lie, there are typically ways in which this is shown. As an example, if someone is being dishonest, a common type of body language is that people will avoid eye contact, some fidget around and others will begin to sweat. Lie detector tests, i.e. polygraph tests take this concept and show it in a quantifiable way of recording reactions to questions. Measurements taken during a polygraph test include respiratory rate, heart rate, blood pressure and skin conductivity. These are all monitored and measured as questions are asked and subsequently answered by the participant. The theory applied is that the response given to questions where a truthful answer is given will provide specific measurements and then by comparing these results to the measurements obtained when an untruthful answer is given shows a difference. Therefore by applying this comparison technique, it is specific to that individual but shows the truthfulness of what is being said.
When to use a polygraph test
There are many instances when polygraph testing can be used:
Depending on the country, for criminal and civil law cases. Typically in the US, when there is a case in that hard evidence is not readily available or not sufficient, polygraph testing of the subjects is admissible. In many cases it is used in addition to evidence available and then to test the trustworthiness of a witness. Additionally, police often use polygraph tests in investigations, however, by law nobody can be forced to sit a polygraph test. On a further note about the legality of polygraph testing, the refusal to site such test cannot affect the outcome of a legal case.
Government agencies across the United States often use polygraph test as a pre-employment screening process for sensitive jobs or jobs with access to intelligence or sensitive data.
Any homeland security concern, in particular, many agencies such as the CIA, FBI and the NSA will use polygraph tests.
Commercially in companies whereby there is concern of fraud or employee theft. Companies often turn to polygraph examiners to help gauge the trustworthiness of employees.
Banks quite often use polygraph testing due to the fact that bank employees can often be responsible or at least have access to vast sums of money. Therefore, employee honesty is a factor that it commonly assessed within bank culture.