pendence. However, this issue remains a concern because of the insularity and close connections among polygraph researchers in government and academia, the associations between some prominent researchers and manufacturers of polygraph equipment, and the limited accessibility of field polygraph data to researchers independent of the organizations that conduct polygraph tests. The credibility of future polygraph research would be enhanced by efforts to insulate it from such real or perceived conflicts of interest (see Chapter 8).

CONCLUSIONS

We find the general quality of research on the criterion validity of the polygraph to be relatively low. This assessment agrees with those of previous reviewers of this field. This situation partly reflects the inherent difficulties of doing high-quality research in this area, but higher quality research designs and methods of data analysis that might have been implemented have generally not been used. Laboratory studies, though important for demonstrating principles, have serious inherent limitations for generalizing to realistic situations, including the fact that the consequences associated with being judged deceptive are almost never as serious as they are in real-world settings. Field studies of polygraph validity have used research designs of no more than moderate methodological strength and are further weakened by the difficulties of independently determining truth and the possible biases introduced by the ways the research has addressed this issue.

NOTES

1.  

Our definition of meta-analysis is presented in Appendix G, along with a more detailed discussion of our rationale for not conducting one.

2.  

In recent years, the U.S. Department of Defense Polygraph Institute has been working to put polygraph research on more of a scientific footing by adopting a number of standard procedures for scientific quality control that can only serve to improve research management at the institute and that may already be having such an effect.

3.  

One of these agencies informed us that it could not provide the requested report in order to protect its sources and methods. The other agency informed us that it would handle our request under the Freedom of Information Act and advised us that its response would not be received until January 2003 at the earliest, well after the scheduled completion of our study. Both of these unclassified reports have been cited in the open literature.



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