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What constitutes a “good” polygraph test question?

‘Relevant’ test questions refer to the questions which are asked in relation to the reason the test is  being conducted.

There are a number of rules and good practice regarding the compilation of relevant test questions. Polygraph test relevant questions should only be asked about factual things. They should be black and white, with no grey areas. Therefore, questions should not be asked about feelings, emotions, intentions or opinions.

The question should be worded in such a way it can only be answered with a yes or no.

They are generally as short as possible with no unnecessary details. The question will have a narrow focus and ask about one single thing and so do not generally include words such as – or, and. The questions should be simple, direct, used with the examinee’s terminology, they should be easy to understand with no double meaning. The examinee should be in no doubt as to what they are being asked.

Also, it is important that the questions do not assume guilt.

For example, if the examinee is denying ever cheating on their partner, they should not be asked if they cheated “more than once” or “more than twice”.

Clearly the question needs to address the issue under investigation.

Additionally legal jargon should be avoided and if possible, reaction-evoking words. A good examiner will ensure all relevant test questions are ‘good’ questions and will not ask an unsuitable question just because someone insists, they really need to be asked a particular question. An experienced examiner will explain the reason why certain questions cannot be asked and will instead compile a more appropriate question. All our examiners have extensive experience and are members of many professional associations including the American Polygraph Association. 

For further information on test questions click here

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