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Those Who Attempt to Beat the Test

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Author Topic: Those Who Attempt to Beat the Test
keithpoly
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posted 09-27-2007 05:32 PM Click Here to See the Profile for keithpoly Click Here to Email keithpoly Edit/Delete Message
I am confident that I have tested many subjects who have taken those ripoff "How to Beat a Polygraph." What gives them away is their breathing patterns. Many tend to have very rounded pneumo tracings with 50/50 I-E ratios. Too bad they're not going to get their money back. We all know what normal looks like. After taking a course like the ones offered things never look normal. Never. The internet has changed the environment but not altered the accuracy of detection. It has given rise to a cottage industry whose claims at success cannot be documented.

How does one serve the cause of truth by offering anyone with a few bucks the hope of adulterating it?

I can empathize with those who have strayed a bit in their past and feel the need to keep minor offenses secret. I believe the key is to make the questions in the pre-employment exam narrow enough so that only those guilty of significant acts are caught in the net. The propensity to lie about even minor events is such that deception is likely in many ordinary folks who, intrinsically, are labeled risks only because of the deception.

We try to convince them to tell the truth but not all are so willing.

It brings back what I was taught in polygraph school 30 years ago: Never ask a question which, even if lied to, fails to indicate a risk factor. Thus, if you ask a subject, "Did you ever steal anything from an employer?" and he lies, such does not immediately indicate a risk factor. Rephrase the question so that if he/she is lying, it definitely does indicate a risk.

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Barry C
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posted 09-27-2007 05:37 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Barry C Click Here to Email Barry C Edit/Delete Message
Who decides what indicates a risk?

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J L Ogilvie
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posted 09-27-2007 06:07 PM Click Here to See the Profile for J L Ogilvie Click Here to Email J L Ogilvie Edit/Delete Message
I don't know if rephrasing the question is the answer.

I tested a subject one time who had worked in a grocery store for a couple of years. I asked him if he had stolen anything from the store and he said he occasionally would have a pack of twinkies. I asked what that meant and he said "you know" just a few. I kept asking what he meant until we got to what he thought would be "about" $500 a year worth. That would be a risk.

In his mind that was "just a few". If I had reworded the question to "have you taken more than a few twinkies" he would have passed and I would have been thinking it was just a couple of dollars.

I am not sure that came out right. My point is that humans are very good at rationalizing and minimizing. If you reword the question to a set risk you are not going to get the whole story. What would you use? "Have you stolen more than $200 from an employer"? Is that high enough, to high or to low? The applicant will always make a decision about what they will or will not say and in my opinion we should leave the questions wide open. If they chose to lie about something petty or insignificant we can't be responsible for that.

Just my opinion, Jack

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keithpoly
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posted 09-27-2007 07:31 PM Click Here to See the Profile for keithpoly Click Here to Email keithpoly Edit/Delete Message
Of course when it comes to who decides what is a risk factor and what is not, this is indeed very subjective.

But let's face one thing: Pre-employment polygraph testing of the masses garnered such scrutiny by Congress that EPPA was passed.

And polygraph continues to be under attack by various factions.

Even if polygraph were 100% accurate at detecting deception criticisms would still be leveled but the attack would be shifted from the fallibility of the technique to some other reason.

This is a profession which shall always have its critics and it is a fact of life which we all accept.

Ethical examiners comprise the vast majority of polygraphists and I am very proud of the work I have done over the last 30 years. My only criticism is exactly what you allude to--who decides on the questions?

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Barry C
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posted 09-27-2007 07:51 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Barry C Click Here to Email Barry C Edit/Delete Message
quote:
My only criticism is exactly what you allude to--who decides on the questions?

What is your opinion and why? How do you know what a given question / answer might predict?

I'll give you an example: I began a study on sex offenders for a thesis I was contemplating. (I soon got bored and shifted to something else, but that's another story.) I learned that the proportion of "normal" people and sex offenders who admit to fantasizing about sex with children is equal. Equal! I asked a couple psychologists, one with direct experience in the area, how that could be, and she gave me the simple answer I overlooked: offenders can't draw the line at fantasy - non-offenders can. One acts, the other doesn't.

Our pre-employment book (currently anyhow) requires us to ask if the candidate has ever fantasized about sex with children, or something along those lines. (I don't ask it. Instead, I ask the direct questions, but let's pretend I'm a conformist.) Somebody somewhere believes that question is a good one. (It is for offenders, I understand, but it tells us nothing about the non-offender population. It just encourages a lie, as you point out.)

My point is that the question's validity (or lack thereof) is based upon research, not divination on the part of the examiner, and not much has been done in every area we probe. We could do that (research) with every question. When do we know that an offense is "minor" or "major"? I asked for such guidance as a new examiner, but I later learned the chief must make a decision based on a totality of the information he receives about the candidate. For some, a "minor" offense will be forgiven; for others, it's the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

In other words, we can better educate ourselves, but in the end, the HR department must have some say in what we ask as they set the standards. Otherwise, we, the examiners set them.

Does this mean we should not be cognizant of the issue you raise? No, but as Jack pointed out, there are other options.

Okay, I forgot my real point, so I'll stop rambling until it comes back to me.

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rnelson
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posted 09-27-2007 08:42 PM Click Here to See the Profile for rnelson Click Here to Email rnelson Edit/Delete Message
quote:
I tested a subject one time who had worked in a grocery store for a couple of years. I asked him if he had stolen anything from the store and he said he occasionally would have a pack of twinkies. I asked what that meant and he said "you know" just a few. I kept asking what he meant until we got to what he thought would be "about" $500 a year worth. That would be a risk.

In his mind that was "just a few". If I had reworded the question to "have you taken more than a few twinkies" he would have passed and I would have been thinking it was just a couple of dollars.


Thats funny.

It reminds me; I once talked to a guy who smelled of alcohol, and asked him if he had been drinking. He told me he had a few beers. I asked him how many was a few, and he said "I don't know, about 20."

r

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"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the war room."
--(Stanley Kubrick/Peter Sellers - Dr. Strangelove, 1964)


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