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Frequently Asked Questions

"What is a polygraph?"

The term polygraph has many definitions. The name refers to the manner in which selected physiological activities are simultaneously recorded. Polygraph examiners may use conventional instruments, sometimes referred to as analog instruments, or computerized instruments. A polygraph instrument will collect physiological data from at least three systems in the human body.

"Who uses polygraph?"

The three segments of society that use the polygraph include law enforcement agencies, the legal community and the private sector.

"Who gets the results?"

Generally the polygraoh results can be released only to the examinee and anyone specifically designated by the examinee.

"Are there errors in Polygraph examinations?"

While the polygraph technique is highly accurate, it is not infallible and errors do occur. Polygraph errors may be caused by the examiner's failure to properly prepare the examinee for the examination, or by a misreading of the physiological data on the polygraph charts.

Errors are usually referred to as either a false positive or false negative. A false positive occurs when a truthful eaminee is reported as being deceptive; a false negative occurs when a deceptive examinee is reported as truthful. Some research indicates that false negatives occur more frequently than false positives; other research shows the opposite conclusion.

Since it is recognized that any error is damaging, examiners use a variety of procedures to identify the presence of factors which may cause false responses, and to insure an unbiased review of the polygraph records.

"Can I test my employees?"

Yes, you can test your employees, however you must follow the guidelines of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988. The EPPA of 1988 states the following guidelines:

> You must have a specific loss such as items missing from your business, money stolen, etc.

> You must have an ongoing investigation; police have been notified and a report has been filed

> The employee must have had access to the missing items such as keys to the office, combination to the safe, etc.

> You must have reasonable suspicion of the employee you wish to test- access alone is not enough; has the employee been living above hir or her means, have sole access to the missing items, etc.

For further questions please contact Patrick E. Coffey

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