Fast Facts About Polygraphs

Fact 1: Polygraphs are used to measure deceptiveness.

Polygraphs, commonly known as lie detectors, measure blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity while a person answers a series of questions.

Fact 2: Polygraphs may be used as part of an assessment process.

When someone who has committed a sexual offense is being evaluated for treatment needs, treatment progress, and risk to reoffend, a polygraph may be one of the methods a treatment professional uses. Polygraphs also are used by researchers seeking to learn more about the factors that cause some individuals to sexually abuse others.

Fact 3: ATSA recommends against using polygraphs on juvenile offenders.

Polygraphs are physiological measurements designed for use with adults. They are not regularly used outside the United States. They have not been shown to improve treatment outcomes, reduce recidivism, or enhance community safety. Ethical concerns about their use on juveniles include exposing adolescents to developmentally inappropriate sexual material and for engendering fear, shame, and other negative emotions in teens.


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2018 ATSA Conference