The Truth About the Polygraph

A June 15, 2010 article, “Buzz on lie detectors is a lie, NSA video says,” at WashingtonPost.com reported on a new 10-minute video about polygraph tests posted at the Defense Security Service’s (DSS) training website. “The Truth About the Polygraph” is reported to be a video produced by the National Security Agency (NSA) designed to reduce the anxiety applicants feel about the examination.

The DSS Academy website provides the following comments regarding the video. An accompanying 2-page brochure is also available:

Many positions of trust with the U.S. Government require candidates to undergo a polygraph examination. This video, aimed at either current or prospective employees, provides an overview of the process that may be encountered when a polygraph examination is required for employment or access to sensitive information.

Neither the DSS Academy website nor the video itself provided any information about the production of the video.

It’s difficult to make any general statements about the manner in which polygraph tests for security clearance applicant screening are conducted. Although, all federal polygraph examiners are trained at the Defense Academy for Credibility Assessment—DACA (formerly known as the DOD Polygraph Institute); examiners develop their own individual style that’s usually influenced by their organization’s culture.

Comment Archive

  1. Avatar

    Does the polygraph not rely on the placebo effect? I assumed the pre polygraph talk that the polygrapher has with examinees was designed to strengthen the placebo effect when I had mine.

  2. Avatar

    Does it discuss the proven possibility of false positives and false negatives?

  3. Avatar

    I feel like the palm trees and blue skies painted on the wall are just unnecessarily cruel.

    (My poly was fine by the way.)