TUCSON, Ariz. — A University of Arizona expert is available to discuss the effectiveness of polygraph examinations, or lie detector tests.
Recently, Sen. Rand Paul suggested President Donald Trump force members of his administration to take polygraph examinations to determine the identity of the anonymous senior administration official who wrote an unflattering op-ed in The New York Times.
UA Distinguished Professor of Psychology John Allen says polygraph tests are ineffective and misidentify 40-50 percent of nondeceptive individuals as deceptive, because there is no unique physiological response associated with lying.
The White House reportedly has a list of about 12 suspects who could have written the editorial. Allen says there is about a 90 percent chance the author of the editorial would fail the polygraph test; however, four to five other suspects would likely fail as well.
"When important issues must be decided, we need highly accurate tools, and the polygraph is not among them," Allen says.