Inaccurate Results – False Positives, and why they occur

Inaccurate Results – False Positives are results that indicate that a subject was lying, when indeed they were not.

Inaccurate Results - False Positives

Irrespective the methodology of Lie Detecting (Polygraph or Voice Stress Analysis), the process and protocols remain the same.

Every well trained, qualified and ethical examiner will always follow a specific process to conduct either a Polygraph or Voice Stress Test.

Should this specific process not be followed, Inaccurate Results -False Positives, may result.

The specific process referred to is the following:

PRE-TEST PHASE

CONSENT:

The subject is advised that the examination process is voluntary and that their written consent is required to confirm that they are offering their full co-operation of their own free will.

SHOULD THIS STEP BE LEFT OUT, THE EXAMINER IS GUILTY OF A MAJOR BREACH OF PROTOCOL!

PURPOSE:

The subject’s understanding of the purpose of the test is determined and therefore further ensures their co-operation.

FITNESS BEFORE EXAMINATION:

The subject is questioned about their physical and psychological state of health to ascertain if there are problems that could have a negative influence on responses to the examination.

SHOULD THIS STEP BE LEFT OUT, THE EXAMINER IS GUILTY OF A MAJOR BREACH OF PROTOCOL!

METHODOLOGY:

The method of truth verification is described and explained in detail, so also the process that will be followed, in order for the subjects’ fears and uncertainties of what to expect, to be addressed.

SHOULD THIS STEP BE LEFT OUT, THE EXAMINER IS GUILTY OF A MAJOR BREACH OF PROTOCOL!

PRE-TEST INTERVIEW:

Information regarding the subject’s personal data, medical history, and working experience is obtained.

Their understanding and value of honesty with people who trust them, is determined. This allows for the examiner to create a psychological set of Control Questions against which reaction to the Relevant Questions, are compared.

SHOULD THIS STEP BE LEFT OUT, THE EXAMINER IS GUILTY OF A MAJOR BREACH OF PROTOCOL!

The questions to be asked during the test must be thoroughly explained and reviewed in this pre-test phase, and the subject must be given opportunity to respond. This is crucial to obtaining reliable results as possible misunderstanding or misinterpretations are eliminated.

SHOULD THIS STEP BE LEFT OUT, THE EXAMINER IS GUILTY OF A MAJOR BREACH OF PROTOCOL!

IN-TEST PHASE
TEST PROCESS

The examiner must lead the test process following exactly the process he explained to the subject previously, as this still further engenders trust and co-operation, as well as maintaining the least levels of stress to the subject.

SHOULD THE EXAMINER NOT ADHERE, THEY ARE GUILTY OF A MAJOR BREACH OF PROTOCOL!

CADENCE

The waiting period between questions differ for Polygraph and Voice Stress Analysis; the cadence between questions is precisely determined to allow for the subject’s homeostasis to return to neutral before the next question is posed to them.

SHOULD THE EXAMINER NOT ADHERE, THEY ARE GUILTY OF A MAJOR BREACH OF PROTOCOL!

QUESTIONS

The Control- and Relevant Questions must be asked in exactly the same way as was previously explained in the Pre-Test phase. Should the examiner change even just one word, primarily misunderstanding and/or misinterpretation may occur, and secondary, the subject is put under undue stress.

SHOULD THE EXAMINER NOT ADHERE, THEY ARE GUILTY OF A MAJOR BREACH OF PROTOCOL!

INACCURATE RESULTS – FALSE POSITIVES, AND WHY THEY OCCUR!

Inaccurate Results - False Positives

So, what is the cause of Inaccurate Results – False Positives?

THE EXAMINER BEING GUILTY OF A MAJOR BREACH OF PROTOCOL!

BREACH OF PROTOCOL

When an examiner is guilty of a major breach of protocol, meaning they did not follow the precise process they were trained to, Inaccurate Results – False Positives may be obtained.

Inaccurate Results – False Positives are the culmination of many unseen factors and occurrences, such as:

  • Should the subject’s understanding and value of honesty with people who trust them, not be determined, the psychological set of Control Questions against which reaction to the Relevant Questions are compared, will be weak. This weakness will result in low definition of reaction to Relevant Questions. Leading to Inaccurate Results – False Positives.
  • Should the questions to be asked during the test not be thoroughly explained and reviewed, and the subject not given opportunity to respond, a door is opened primarily to misunderstanding and/or misinterpretations. Secondary, the deceptive subject may choose to interpret as suits them, and their physiology will always respond accordingly. Leading to Inaccurate Results – False Positives.
  • Should the examiner not lead the test process exactly as was explained to the subject previously, undue stress and subsequent physiological reaction will occur. Leading to Inaccurate Results – False Positives.
  • Should the waiting period between questions not be adhered to, the possibility of ‘bleeding’ is created. ‘Bleeding’ is the measurement of a reaction to a previous, previous question. A delayed response if you will, because the subjects’ homeostasis (Fight or Flight) hasn’t been allowed to return to neutral. Leading to Inaccurate Results – False Positives.
  • Should the questions during the test phase not be asked in exactly the same way as was explained to the subject previously, again primarily misunderstanding and/or misinterpretation may occur, and secondary, the subject is put under undue stress and their physiology will respond accordingly. Leading to Inaccurate Results – False Positives.

In my opinion for specific case related examinations, an acceptable ratio of Lie Detecting Results is 80/20.

80% of specific tests done usually result in No Deception Indicated. The subject was being truthful when answering the Relevant Questions.

20% of specific tests done usually result in Deception Indicated. The subject was not being truthful when answering the Relevant Questions.

In my opinion also, for Periodic Screenings, this ratio changes to 90/10.

90% of Screenings done usually result in No Deception Indicated. The subject was being truthful when answering the Relevant Questions.

10% of Screenings done usually result in Deception Indicated. The subject was not being truthful when answering the Relevant Questions.

This ratio indicates that your Honesty Management Program is successful, ie. Employees accept the parameters for proper conduct and understand the consequences when they do not.

Further, in my opinion, no ratio applies to Pre-employment Tests.

CONSEQUENCES OF INACCURATE RESULTS -FALSE POSITIVES,AND OUR tool to determine if you have ground to demand a re-test

When an employee’s results from a Lie Detecting Test returns as Deception Indicated, usually the consequences are dire.

Immediately trust between employee and employer is broken down. Further, the employee will be put on or remain suspended from work, until an investigation is completed. I do not need to explain the implication of that.

The worst consequence of Inaccurate Results – False Positives, in my view, is that the Lie Detection Industry and examiners lose the trust of their clients and subjects.

Reliability and accuracy is more important than affordability – choose your examiner wisely, re-evaluate your trust in their service regularly.

If you suspect that Inaccurate Results – False Positives are being reported because the above ratios no longer apply for you, download our Questionnaire here, to be completed by your employees who have been subjected to a Lie Detecting test, if all the answers aren’t YES, you may have ground to demand a Re-Test. Inform your current examiner and then use another examiner.

Also, look out for my next blog post on Re-Tests.

Reference: My training and experience over the last 11 years.

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