The Polygraph in 1995: Progress in Science and the Law

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The use of physiological recordings to make inferences about the truthfulness of a person's statements has a long and controversial history in both psychological science and the law. Frye v. United States, the famous 1923 case that set the general legal standard for the admissibility of scientific evidence for most of this century, concerned the use of a blood pressure test for the detection of deception. The Frye decision generally closed the door on the legal admissibility of polygraph tests in most jurisdictions for seventy years. In psychological science, some of the greatest names in the early history of psychology were interested in the assessment of credibility by physiological measures. Despite this early interest by scientists, very little research on the topic of the psychophysiological credibility assessment was published during the first 75 years of this century. However, since 1975, and particularly during the last 10 years, a great deal of scientific research on psychophysiological credibility assessment has been published. The favorable results of much of that research, and the recent rejection of the long standing Frye standard by the U. S. Supreme court have caused a number of courts to reconsider the issue of admitting the results of polygraph tests at trial.

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