The client was rightly full of questions when they called our office. So, speaking directly to a qualified examiner overcame her first hurdle of suspicion. The process was discussed in detail and her concerns about excuses of being nervous or taking substances to defeat the test were explained in detail. She finished with her last question which was,
“I only want one question, why are we going to be there for two hours?”
It was clear that like so many of us when we are being overloaded with
information or given a diagnosis by a clinician that not everything sinks in (is remembered or recalled) in those circumstances. This prompted me to pen the following as both an aid-memoire to be accessed by our clients as a blog.
The polygraph examination is broken down into four distinct but connected areas, the booking process, the pre-test interview, the actual polygraph examination and the post-test review.
Why is the booking process so important to the polygraph test?
Simply put this is arguably the most important part of the whole process. Speaking to an examiner direct, rather than a call handler is the clients’ opportunity to establish the professional credentials of the examiner concerned.
N.B A note of caution here, never ever book with a company who can’t give you the name of the examiner conducting your test or allow you to speak directly and always, always check that the examiner is registered with the American Polygraph Association.
During the booking enquiry you should be asked to disclose the issue which you hope to resolve and to confirm (if the caller is not the examinee) if they themselves would be attending the appointment. It is often the case that the examinee will attend the appointment on their own, in which case if the caller is not attending but is an interested party, for example a husband or wife in an infidelity test, then during the booking it can be agreed exactly what questions will be used in the test.
This may seem obvious but it is vital that the test questions are “ideally formulated” which requires some discussion and explanation by the examiner and I will delve further into that definition in the Pre-test interview section.
General questions about the examinees health and details of any prescribed medication/s being used by the potential examinee/s will also be asked so that the examiner is aware of the medication and can research, prior to confirming the booking, if there are any contra-reactions to its use whilst taking a test.
There are two questions that we are most commonly asked about at this stage.
1. Does nervousness effect the polygraph test?
Our nervous system is there to protect us as human beings in time of incidents or accidents in life that we find overwhelming, threatening or incomprehensible and cause us what we term under a general heading as stress. Now this topic is a whole long blog in its own right. Yes some people can be described as being more nervous than others and some people appear to handle stress better than others. This can be for all sorts of socioeconomic and environmental reasons but one thing that is clear is that when you are nervous you simply cannot switch to being calm and then back to being nervous again only when certain questions are asked. In short, nervousness is a constant state during a polygraph test.
2. What if they (the examinee) takes something (drugs or substances) to effect the test?
Occasionally we do get the odd examinee who has taken some kind of substance to affect their heart rate in an attempt to falsely calm their reactions during the test.
However the analogy I often give clients when I am asked this question is this. When you are at home watching the TV and your signal gets interrupted, maybe by atmospherics or slow internet, then because you view the TV screen regularly, you know that the picture is not being displayed properly. You can see the pixilation’s or blurring where there should have been a clear sharp image and when the interference clears you can also see that the picture has returned to what you would expect.
Our examiners are continually conducting polygraph examinations and like you with your TV, they know how the reaction data should be displaying on their equipment and monitors and when it is not. Medication can be used to alter the data from a test but a professional examiner will identify the corrupted data and discontinue the test if necessary and lets face it, who would take medication. In those circumstances, only someone who had something to fear from what the true results would be are my thoughts. What about you?
Penned by our Chief and Lead Examiner Mike Rumble
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