Many people find the idea of a polygraph test fascinating and intriguing.
However, real examinations are not televised events and often people have acquired many misconceptions about how the process works due to something they have seen on television. You may hear about the results of a test on daytime tv shows, but you do not actually see a real test being conducted. You may see a short clip of a lie detector test in a real-life crime program or you may have seen a fictional test in a film or a tv drama, but you have not seen real polygraph tests performed by a qualified professional examiners, broadcast or posted on facebook.
Usually in these fictional scenarios the process does not even remotely reflect what actually happens in a real examination. Television producers are concerned with audience viewing figures and producing dramatic and entertaining programmes rather than creating an authentic representation of a polygraph examination. For example, many of the test questions in these scenario’s would never be used in a real-life situation as they would not be considered good test questions. The questions asked are not random or casually chosen. They are not trick or surprise questions either. Additionally, in real life it, would be absurd for an examinee not to know in advance the type and scope of the questions that they are going to be asked.
The examination process usually takes around two hours of which at least an hour of this is the pre-test preparation – it is not simply a case of sitting down the examinee and attaching the equipment and asking questions. In fact, without a thought out and properly detailed preparation, the test is no more accurate than the flip of a coin.