Public Opinion About the Polygraph

The public is routinely informed that suspects have been administered a polygraph test and have either failed or passed the test. In some cases, this information is provided during the trial. Consequently, how the public judges the polygraph test is of interest to those in the legal community. A number of studies have addressed how the public responds to polygraph tests, and these studies generally suggest that people react to polygraph test results much differently than the courts assume they do.

As used in criminal investigations, the polygraph test consists of a series of questions administered to a suspect by a polygraph examiner, who measures the suspect's physiological responses to each of the questions. In most instances, the pattern of questioning of suspects involves a variant ...

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