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NCJ Number: 75724 Find in a Library
Title: Polygraph in Employment - Some Unresolved Issues
Journal: Personnel Journal  Volume:58  Issue:9  Dated:(September 1979)  Pages:616-621
Author(s): P G Benson; P S Krois
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 6
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Major issues concerning the use of polygraphs in employment are examined, including their effectiveness, the uses of the polygraph, objections to those uses, the legal status of polygraph use, and polygraph control.
Abstract: Both polygraphs and the psychological stress evaluators (PSE) (which measure variations in voice patterns) can be used only to measure stress, but their use in employment settings has been highly controversial. Research into polygraph effectiveness has found that the polygraph may function to detect deception at levels that exceed chance, but not without some chance for error, and that the PSE is not effective as a lie detector. Despite the controversy, some businesses want to use the polygraph to verify employment applications, to periodically assess an employee's honesty and loyalty, or to investigate a specific theft. Objections to the polygraph center on the questions of its effectiveness, on violation of the fifth amendment guarantee, and on the invasion of privacy. Various States have taken steps to limit the use of polygraphs in employment settings, and it seems likely that there will be Federal legislation restricting their use as well. Controversy surrounding the question of polygraph controls centers on several issues, including the potential for restriction of examiners, potential penalties for polygraph misuse, the form of the interrogation, the necessity of an outright ban versus voluntary submission to a polygraph test, and the potential for polygraphs to inadvertently lead to discriminatory employment practices. Restrictions on the use of the lie detector are certainly needed, and unless some of the more fundamental issues can be resolved, an outright ban on their use would be preferable to the current unrestricted use. A list of 26 references is included.
Index Term(s): Employment; Polygraphs
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