Depiction of Polygraph Test in Popular Culture:
These days, it seems like every show on television is utilizing the infamous lie detector test. Whether it is Maury Povich ousting a cheater, or Dr. Phil attempting to prove which partner in a troubled relationship is lying, the media can not seem to get enough lie detector drama. As we witness hysterical women running out of rooms, convinced that their husbands are unfaithful, it is difficult to doubt the validity of the lie detector test, but after disregarding the countless anecdotes, is the lie detector test an icon of psychology, or is it simply just another element of pseudoscience?
According to the Lilienfeld textbook, the largest organization of lie detector test examiners claims that the polygraph test is 98% accurate. According to the scientific principles, a claim this extraordinary better have extraordinary evidence. The modern polygraph test measures factors such as blood pressure, respiration, and skin conductance, which are all thought to reflect anxiety. Though the test measures anxiety, it does not measure the reasons behind the anxiety an individual is facing. This fact leads to incorrect results. This is proved by the polygraph's high yield of false positives, or innocent individuals who are mislabeled as guilty (40%). The polygraph test fails to rule out rival hypotheses when measuring anxiety. The individual being tested could very possible have anxiety over being convicted of a crime he or she did not commit, but the lie detector immediately interprets anxiety as an indicator that the individual is lying.
Using these principles of scientific thinking, it is evident that the lie detector test may not be the most full-proof method of determining whether your significant other is cheating, or whether an individual committed a crime. Though the polygraph test may not have a place in the courtroom, it will always have a place on our nation's television programs.