Glossary Of Polygraphs Terms and Abbreviations

ACCREDITED POLYGRAPH TRAINING – Any polygraph training program that has been approved by the American Polygraph Association.

ACCURACY – The ability of a polygraph to produce correct results. Polygraph accuracy varies by technique and by number of relevant questions asked, but has been proven to exceed 90% with a specific issue test using a validated testing method (not counting inconclusive results).

ACQUAINTANCE TEST – A short polygraph exam used to help determine the suitability and response capability of an examinee. This is not a scored test.

ACTIVITY SENSOR  (MOTION SENSOR) – Body movements are monitored using activity sensors to help determine the difference between reactions caused by physical issues (either intentional or unintentional) and those caused by psychophysiological issues.

AIR FORCE MODIFIED QUESTION TEST (AFMGQT) – One of the APA validated testing methods.

AMERICAN POLYGRAPH ASSOCIATION (APA) – The world’s largest professional association of polygraph examiners. The APA establishes industry and training standards in addition to supporting polygraph research.

ANALOG POLYGRAPH – Before digital (computerized) polygraph instruments became the standard, analog instruments were used. These instruments transmitted the data onto long paper strips using multiple “pens” to transfer the tracings onto the paper. These instruments were used from the 1920’s until the early 2000’s.

APA – See AMERICAN POLYGRAPH ASSOCIATION

ARMY MODIFIED QUESTION TEST (AMGQT) – A polygraph testing method that does not meet the requirements for validation.

ARTIFACT – Any observable change in a person’s polygraph reactions not caused by psychophysiological issues. For example, body movements, coughs, sneezes, PVCs, or loud noises. These types of changes affect the quality of data collected and must be eliminated from the data set being reviewed.

AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR TESTING AND MATERIALS (ASTM) – An international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services, including polygraph.

AXCITON SYSTEMS – One of the four major instrument manufacturers.

BACKSTER (CLEVE BACKSTER) – One of the pioneers in the field of polygraph (lie detector) testing.

BODYBUILDING TOURNAMENT EXAM – A type of polygraph used to determine whether a competitive bodybuilder has used any substance, drug or supplement banned by the tournament.

BREAKOUT EXAM – A follow-up specific issue test which can be administered after a multiple issue test has produced results that need further clarification or resolution.  The breakout exam is designed to isolate potential problem issues and resolve them by using a more accurate format.

CARDIOGRAPH (BLOOD PRESSURE) – Changes in blood pressure and pulse are measured and recorded by use of the cardiovascular component of the instrument.

CERTIFIED POLYGRAPH EXAMINER – An individual who has been trained to administer polygraph exams by completing an APA accredited training program (and internship if required).

CHARTS (POLYGRAMS) – These are the pictorial representations of the polygraph data collected. Each component the polygraph measures is represented by a different continuous line on the display or graph.

CHEATING BOYFRIEND / CHEATING GIRLFRIEND / CHEATING HUSBAND / CHEATING PARTNER / CHEATING SPOUSE / CHEATING WIFE – Suspected cheating in a relationship (sexual or nonsexual infidelity) is an issue that polygraph is well suited to resolve. See DOMESTIC ISSUE TESTING

COMPARISON QUESTION TECHNIQUE (CQT) – A polygraph method that incorporates different types of questions and evaluates the relative differences between reactions to those questions to establish the likelihood of truth of deception.

COMPARISON (CONTROL) QUESTIONS – Those questions within a polygraph that are used to compare with reactions to the relevant questions.

COMPUTERIZED VOICE STRESS ANALYSIS (CVSA) – A lie detection method that measures changes in the voice that proponents claim are attributed to deception, but independent research has failed to validate the accuracy of this technology as a reliable lie detector.

COUNTERMEASURES (CM) – Any method (physical or mental) used by individuals attempting to alter, augment or interfere with their polygraph results.

COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE (CI) EXAM – A type of polygraph designed for U.S. intelligence personnel to establish suitability for a particular clearance or position.

CUT SCORE – A threshhold number that must be achieved (via manual numerical scoring) before a decision of truthfulness or deception can be rendered.

DECEPTION INDICATED (DI) – Refers to a test result where the probability of deception is in the highest range, generally indicating deception to a specific issue.

DIRECTED LIE SCREENING TEST (DLST) – This is a polygraph format used in the screening of individuals who are being considered for employment by a company or agency. The test issues may include criminal history, drug use, theft from previous employers, domestic abuse, and falsification of the application, among others. This method requires the examinee to intentionally lie to certain questions to be used for comparison.

DIRECTED LIE TEST (DLT) – A polygraph testing method in which the examinee is asked to intentionally lie to certain questions in the exam to be used for comparison.

DOMESTIC ISSUE TESTING (FIDELITY TESTING) – A polygraph exam used to help resolve a personal issue between two persons involved in a past, present, or potential romantic and/or sexual relationship, and may address any specific behavior that one partner may have concerns with.

ELECTRODERMAL RESPONSE (EDA) – Changes in sweat gland activity are measured and recorded by use of the electrodermal component of the instrument.

EMPIRICAL SCORING SYSTEM (ESS) – An APA validated scoring system.

EMPLOYEE POLYGRAPH PROTECTION ACT (EPPA) – A U.S. federal regulation that establishes requirements and standards for testing of potential and current employees of private sector companies in the United States.

EXAMINEE – The person who is taking the polygraph exam.

EXAMINER – see POLYGRAPH EXAMINER

FALSE NEGATIVE (FN) RESULT – When a polygraph result indicates that a deceptive person is being truthful.

FALSE POSITIVE (FP) RESULT  – When a polygraph result indicated that a truthful person is being deceptive.

FEDERAL ZONE COMPARISON TEST – One of the APA validated testing methods.

FEDERAL SCORING SYSTEM – One of the APA validated scoring methods.

FIDELITY LIE DETECTOR TESTING – see DOMESTIC ISSUE TESTING

FISHING TOURNAMENT EXAM – A type of polygraph used to verify the legitimacy of a catch during a fishing tournament prior to the distribution of prizes and awards.

FULL SCOPE POLYGRAPH – A type of polygraph designed for U.S. intelligence personnel to establish suitability for a particular clearance or position.

GLOBAL POLYGRAPH NETWORK (GPN) – The world’s largest polygraph organization devoted exclusively to private polygraph examiners available for hire.

GUILTY KNOWLEDGE TEST (GKT) – A polygraph format used to determine whether the examinee reacts to questions containing information that only the guilty party would know.

INCONCLUSIVE (INC) – Refers to a test result where the data collected is of sufficient quality to analyze, but the test results do not produce clear indications of either deception or truthfulness.

INFIDELITY LIE DETECTOR TESTING – see DOMESTIC ISSUE TESTING

INSTANT OFFENSE POLYGRAPH – Generally used on convicted sex offenders, this format addresses only the specific allegation for which the examinee was convicted.

INSTRUMENT – The device used by polygraph examiners to collect physiological data.

IRRELEVANT QUESTIONS – Those questions within a polygraph designed to produce less reactions than other questions, typically used to establish or reestablish an examinee’s normal (baseline) state.

LAFAYETTE INSTRUMENT – One of the four major instrument manufacturers

LAW ENFORCEMENT PRE-EMPLOYMENT TEST (LEPET) – A specific type of polygraph exam typically used to screen law enforcement (police) and security personnel prior to being hired.

LIE DETECTOR – Any device or procedure that is used to help determine the truthfulness of an individual.  Polygraph is considered the most accurate type of lie detector, but there are are also other technologies being used.

LIE DETECTOR TEST (LDT) – A procedure which attempts to determine the truthfulness of an individual regarding an issue. A polygraph exam is a kind of lie detector test.

LIE DETECTOR TESTING – see LIE DETECTOR TEST

LIFESTYLE POLYGRAPH – A type of polygraph designed for U.S. intelligence personnel to establish suitability for a particular clearance or position.

LIMESTONE TECHNOLOGIES – One of the four major instrument manufacturers

MAINTENANCE POLYGRAPH – Generally used on convicted sex offenders, this format addresses any issues of concern to the examinee’s parole/probation officer or treatment provider.

MODIFIED GENERAL QUESTION TEST (MGQT) – One type of polygraph testing method.

MONITORING POLYGRAPH – Generally used on convicted sex offenders, this format addresses the examinee’s compliance with the terms of his/her parole or probation.

MULTIPLE ISSUE POLYGRAPH – A type of polygraph that addresses more than one specific target issue. With this format it is possible for an examinee to be truthful to one Relevant Question but lying to another.

NATIONAL CENTER FOR CREDIBILITY ASSESSMENT (NCCA) – Formerly the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute (DoDPI) and Defense Academy for Credibility Assessment (DACA), this is the U.S. federal training center for government polygraph examiners.

NEUTRAL QUESTIONS – Those questions within a polygraph designed to produce less reactions than other questions, typically used to establish or reestablish an examinee’s normal (baseline) state.

NO DECEPTION INDICATED (NDI) – Refers to a test result where the probability of deception is within the lowest range, generally indicating truthfulness to a specific issue

NO OPINION – Refers to a test result where the data collected is not of sufficient quality to analyze or score. This is often caused by medical issues, medications, or the examinee’s inability to remain still or follow instructions.

NO SIGNIFICANT REACTIONS (NSR) – Used with Multiple Issue testing, this refers to a test result where the probability of deception is within the lowest range, generally indicating truthfulness to all the relevant questions.

NUMERICAL SCORING – A manual method of evaluating polygraph charts by assigning a numerical value to each Relevant Question.

OBJECTIVE SCORING SYSTEM (OSS) – A computerized polygraph scoring algorithm.

PLETHYSMOGRAPH (PLE) – Changes in blood volume in the extremities are measured and recorded by use of the plethysmograph component of the instrument.

PNEUMOGRAPH – Changes in breathing are measured and recorded by use of the pneumograph components of the instrument.

P-VALUE – Statistically, the probability that a particular test result will be incorrect.

PDD EXAMINER – A person who administers polygraph exams – see PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGICAL DETECTION OF DECEPTION

PEAK OF TENSION TEST (PTT) – A type of polygraph test used to determine the relative strength of reactions among various questions. Subtypes of this exam are the Known Solution Peak of Tension Test (a/k/a Guilty Knowledge Test) and the Probing Peak of Tension Test.

POLYGRAPH INSTRUMENT – A device used to aid in determining the truthfulness of an individual regarding an issue.

POLYGRAPH EXAM – A procedure during which a polygraph instrument is used to determine the truthfulness of an individual regarding an issue. A type of lie detector test.

POLYGRAPH EXAMINER – An individual who has been trained to administer polygraph exams.

POST CONVICTION SEX OFFENDER TEST (PCSOT) – see SEX OFFENDER POLYGRAPH

PREMATURE VENTRICULAR CONTRACTIONS (PVC) – Extra, abnormal heartbeats that occur when the ventricle attempts to compress before the chamber has filled with blood.

PRE-EMPLOYMENT POLYGRAPH – This is a polygraph format used in the screening of individuals who are being considered for employment by a company or agency. The test issues may include criminal history, drug use, theft from previous employers, domestic abuse, and falsification of the application, among others.

PRIVATE POLYGRAPH – An exam done by a private examiner (not through law enforcement).

PRIVATE POLYGRAPH EXAMINER – A polygraph examiner providing tests in the private sector for individuals, corporations, attorneys, and therapists.

PROBABLE LIE TEST (PLT) – A polygraph testing method in which the examinee is asked a variety of different types of questions to be used for comparison, including some questions that may be considered subjective or which the examinee may not be certain about his/her answer.

PROBING PEAK OF TENTION (PPT) TEST – A type of polygraph which presents the examinee with various unknown elements to establish which of those elements create the greatest reactions. Helpful to locate evidence and to identify co-conspirators.

PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGICAL DETECTION OF DECEPTION (PDD) – The scientific term for “polygraph” as defined and standardized by ASTM and the scientific community.

QUALITY CONTROL REVIEW – A process in which a polygraph examination (methods, charts, questions) is reviewed by a second examiner.

RELATIONSHIP LIE DETECTOR – A polygraph exam used to help resolve a personal issue between two persons involved in a past, present, or potential romantic and/or sexual relationship, and may address any specific behavior that one partner may have concerns with.

RELEVANT QUESTIONS – Those questions within a polygraph that address the target issue or issues of the exam.

RELEVANT / IRRELEVANT (R/I) POLYGRAPH EXAM – A polygraph technique that does not include control questions and does not meet the requirements for validation.

SACRIFICE QUESTIONS – Those questions within a polygraph designed to absorb the impact of the first mention of the relevant test issues.

SCORING RULES – A published set of standard rules used to numerically score a set of polygraph charts.  Each validated testing method is paired with one or more sets of scoring rules permissible for use with that specific testing method.

SCREENING POLYGRAPH – This is a polygraph format used in the screening of individuals who are being considered for employment or advancement by a company or agency. The test issues may include criminal history, drug use, theft from previous employers, domestic abuse, and falsification of the application, among others.

SENSITIVITY – The quantitative ability of a polygraph to identify deception.

SEX OFFENDER POLYGRAPH (PCSOT) – Any type of polygraph given to a convicted sex offender by a qualified examiner. The types of exams in this category are the Instant Offense, Sexual History Disclosure, Maintenance, and Monitoring.

SEXUAL HISTORY DISCLOSURE POLYGRAPH – Primarily used for sex offenders, this is a polygraph format used to determine the examinee’s sexual history prior to conviction. This is used by therapists to provide more suitable treatment options.

SIGNIFICANT REACTIONS (SR) – Refers to a test result where the probability of deception is in the highest range, generally indicating deception to one or more of the relevant questions in a multiple issue test.

SILENT ANSWER TEST (SAT) – A test variation in which the examinee does not verbally answer the examiner’s questions, but is instructed to either makes a slight head movement (nod or shake) or to simply “think” the answer.

SPECIFIC ISSUE POLYGRAPH – A type of polygraph that addresses only one specific target issue. Generally, if an examinee lies to one of the Relevant Questions with this format he/she must be lying to all the Relevant Questions.

SPECIFICITY – The quantitative ability of a polygraph to identify truthfulness.

SPOT SCORE – The total numerical score for just one specific relevant question (R1 for example).

STIMULATION (STIM) TEST – A short polygraph exam used to help determine the suitability and response capability of an examinee.

STOELTING – One of the four major instrument manufacturers

SYMPTOMATIC QUESTIONS – Those questions within a polygraph that are designed to determine if there is an “outside issue” more salient to the examinee than the test issue, which could compromise the test results or lead to inconclusive results.

TOP SECRET / SENSITIVE COMPARTMENTED INFORMATION (TS/SCI) POLYGRAPH – A type of polygraph designed for U.S. intelligence personnel to establish suitability for a particular clearance or position.

UTAH ZONE COMPARISON METHOD – One of the APA validated testing methods.

UTAH SCORING SYSTEM – One of the APA validated scoring methods.

VALIDATED TESTING METHOD – A testing method that has been validated through scientific study to meet a certain minimum level of accuracy (90% for specific issue testing).

VOICE STRESS ANALYSIS (VSA) – A lie detection method that measures changes in the voice that proponents claim are attributed to deception, but independent research has failed to validate the accuracy of this technology as a reliable lie detector.

ZONE COMPARISON TEST (ZCT) – A type of polygraph exam in which different types of questions are asked and the reactions compared with one another.

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