Polygraph tests to determine if a significant other is unfaithful are now in “high demand” in T&T.
Because of this, the service is currently being offered locally by Amalgamated Security Services Ltd. And some people are paying as much as $3,500 to get to the truth.
“In the developed nations, polygraph tests are no longer just for law enforcement. Many couples are now utilising this service to see if their significant others are cheating, wasting their joint finances, or otherwise lying to them and breaking down trust,” ASSL said in response to questions from the Sunday Business Guardian.
“This result forms part of the body of evidence in pursuance of divorce, separation and or reconciliation of their relationship,” it stated.
According to the American Polygraph Association approximately 15 per cent of all administrated tests are given to couples questioning the strength of their relationship.
“What you should also be aware of is that many couples who request this service are carrying around a burden of mistrust which may lead to many other issues and can be toxic to that relationship when not addressed,” ASSL stated.
“The examination brings closure and releases the burden and can save the relationship and rebuild trust when you realise your partner was being truthful,” it stated.
Given concerns surrounding the issues of domestic violence locally, ASSL was asked if it had any fears of repercussions if a result confirmed infidelity.
“First and foremost, our job is to determine if someone is being truthful or not based on our training and qualifications. Our examiners are not biased with which way the outcome goes, but rather that the examination was administered fairly accurately and professionally according to the APA standards,” it stated.
“Secondly, the person taking the exam must do so voluntarily and therefore consent must be given freely before the exam can be started,” ASSL stated.
ASSL added that it is important both parties understand what is at stake when doing polygraph testing and must also be able to accept the result, regardless of which party it supports.
“Both parties are allowed to express their version before the examiner formulates the questions to address the issue at hand. After the results are given, the parties would need to decide on how they want to move forward and may need to seek professional assistance if needed,” it stated.
“If an individual is fearful based on a result, then reports to the relevant authority should be made. If during a polygraph testing any of the individuals become aggressive or non-compliant the examination would be halted. If threats are made during the process it may be related to the relevant authority,” ASSL stated.
The Sunday Business Guardian was told that polygraph testing has undergone significant advances and includes several countermeasures to detect deliberate attempts at trying to fool the technology.
“Truth verification methods are scientific examinations, not a flip of the coin. It is a system and, when done properly, can achieve accuracy between 95-98 per cent,” ASSL stated.
ASSL argued that the examination is used as a tool and it has its limitations in terms of what can be done in a single test so others may be necessary depending on the information trying to be verified as being truthful or deceptive.
Because polygraph tests are voluntary, ASSL stated that it should therefore be seen by people as an opportunity to clear their name.
The security firm stated that the only things someone needs to do to have a successful exam are:
1. Follow the instructions and
2. Tell the truth.
“People also think their being nervous will show up as being deceptive, that is not so. That’s also why we give the practice test to form a ‘baseline’ of the areas that are being monitored and is considered a normal aspect of the polygraph,” it stated.
“While the polygraph technique is highly accurate, it is not infallible and errors do occur; as is the case with any test that may not be conducted within the limits of the system,” ASSL stated.
Polygraph “errors” may be caused by the examiner’s failure to prepare the examinee for the examination properly, or by a misreading of the physiological data on the polygraph charts.
“As with any test involving humans, it’s possible for an examiner to do everything correctly and still have the test result in an error,” ASSL stated.
Errors are usually referred to as either false positives or false negatives. A false positive occurs when a truthful examinee is reported as being deceptive; a false negative, when a deceptive examinee is reported as truthful.
“Since it is recognised that any error is damaging, examiners utilise a variety of procedures to identify the presence of factors which may cause errors and mitigate these by using a quality system with proper standard operating procedures,” it stated.
• An assessment of the examinee’s emotional state
• Medical information about the examinee’s physical condition
• Technical questions to evaluate the examinee’s response capabilities
• Factual analysis of the case information
• A pre-test interview and detailed review of the questions
• Quality control reviews
According to ASSL a polygraph examination can range between $1,800 to $3,500 based on the nature and complexity of the case being pursued and the amount of time required to perform the service.
“It should be noted that based on the nature of the case there is an investigative component that is done during the examination to determine what relevant question should be asked,” ASSL stated.
“In that phase of the examination other information is sometimes uncovered so the person requesting the service gets the greatest value for their investment,” it stated.
Pre-preparations for the examinee include getting six to eight hours of sleep and abstaining from drugs or alcohol 24 hours before the exam. However, all prescribed medication must be taken as recommended by your doctor and meals should be taken on time.
A polygraph exam consists of four parts.
First is the pre-examination interview which includes a suitability test to determine if the examinee is physically and psychologically prepared for the exam. This phase also includes a discussion of the case to agree on the objectives.
Second is the practice test for the examinee to experience what it feels like to answer questions in a polygraph environment. This helps the examinee to relax and build confidence that they can do it.
The third is the actual test.
Fourth is the post-test interview where the examiner does an analysis and the results are explained.
Polygraph testing is one form of truth verification like Voice Stress Analysis (VSA) used in helping distinguish truthful from deceptive individuals.
Polygraph testing uses a measurement of the body’s respiratory and neurological systems to detect small changes that arise when someone is not telling the truth.
Apart from determining infidelity in a relationship ASSL also polygraph tests for pre-employment, post-employment and other investigations.
The term “polygraph” means “many writings.” “The name refers to how selected physiological activities are simultaneously recorded primarily from (but not limited to) the subject’s cardiovascular activity, respiratory activity, and sweat gland activity. For most other truth verification techniques only one physiological activity is analysed,” ASSL stated.
ASSL says it also has a team of examiners who have been certified in VSA.
“VSA software programs are designed to measure changes in one’s voice patterns caused by the stress of trying to hide deceptive responses. The programme interprets changes in vocal patterns and indicates on a graph whether the subject is being ‘deceptive’ or ‘truthful’,” it stated.