Many people think that they are good at reading character and in determining whether someone is lying, often relying on eye movement, gaze aversion, or body language, and other behavioral signs. Unfortunately, the fact is that none of these methods have been proven to work as well as a properly conducted polygraph test. The truth of the matter is that “gut feel” or “intuition” has been shown to be only slightly better than flipping a coin.
While it is true that all races demonstrate the same range of facial expressions, relying on an innate belief in being able to recognize micro changes in them is likely to lead to many false conclusions.
When it comes to determining when someone is lying or telling the truth, a polygraph, or lie detector test is the most reliable method. A lie detector test relies on using sensors to record physiological indicators such as heart rate, blood pressure, skin conductance, and respiration while asking the participant to answer a carefully selected set of questions. The results are then analyzed by a professional trained in the use of the equipment and how to interpret the results.
Anyone watching television crime series might believe that the principal use for polygraphs is in assisting in criminal investigations and while they are used in that way, polygraph tests are more likely to be used in other situations. These might be pre-employment tests, particularly for jobs in law enforcement and related fields, or for businesses testing employees, spouses concerned about marital fidelity, post-conviction sex offender testing, or as part of the routine monitoring of people on probation. They are also used by defense lawyers building their case against for trial.
The critical factors in ensuring that the results of the polygraph tests are reliable are the quality of the equipment (tremendous advances have been made in the last decade) and the training of the person administering the test. In the right hands, the polygraph is the only way to obtain results with a high degree of confidence.