Appendix D

Acronyms and Glossary


ANS -- autonomic nervous system
CIA -- Central Intelligence Agency
CQT -- control question technique
DCI -- Director of Central Intelligence
DLCQ -- directed lie control question [technique]
DOD -- Department of Defense
DOJ -- Department of Justice
EDR -- electrodermal response
GKT -- guilty knowledge test
GSR -- galvanic skin response
GQT -- general question test
JAG -- Judge Advocate General
LEAA -- Law Enforcement Assistance Administration
MGQT -- modified general question test
MMPI -- Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
NSA -- National Security Agency
NSDD -- National Security Decision Directive
OPM -- Office of Personnel Management
Pd -- psychopathic deviate [scale]
POT -- peak of tension [test]
RCQT -- Reid control question technique
R/I -- relevant/irrelevant [technique]
SCI -- Sensitive Compartmented Information
SCR -- skin conductance response
USAMPS -- U. S. Army Military Police School
USPS -- U.S. Postal Service
ZOC -- zone of comparison [technique]


analog studies: Analog studies are laboratory studies of polygraph testing that simulate actual field examinations. Typical components of field examinations are replicated. The goal of such studies is to test the validity of various polygraph techniques under controlled conditions.

aperiodic checking: Polygraph tests conducted at irregular times with randomly or otherwise selected personnel to ask questions for internal security purposes. autonomic lability: Term used to describe individual differences in autonomic arousal.

base rate: The number of guilty (or innocent) subjects as a percentage of the total.

baseline: The readings on a polygraph chart that form a point of comparison for the physiological responses to the polygraph questions.

classified information: Information that pertains to national security and by definition, cannot be disclosed to others without clearance.

clinical components: Components of a polygraph test procedure, including “proper" examiner attitude and relationship with subjects, that attempt to ensure accuracy.

construct validity: The extent to which a test or procedure measures what it is designed to measure.

control question technique: A polygraph question technique that incorporates control questions which are designed to be arousing for nondeceptive subjects and less arousing for deceptive subjects than the relevant questions.

counterintelligence: Efforts of an organization to stop outside groups from gaining information about itself.

counterintelligence screening examinations: Examinations given to personnel who already have access to classified information.

electrodermal response: A physiological measure that has been shown to be related to physiological arousal. It is measured as the electrical resistance of the skin through the use of electrodes attached to the fingertips.

external validity: The established generalizability of a study to particular subject populations and settings.

false negative: An erroneous decision that an individual is not deceptive when she or he is actually deceptive.

false positive: An erroneous decision that a person is being deceptive when he or she is actually being truthful.

field testing: Actual techniques used by polygraph examiners.

generalizability: The extent to which results of previous investigations can be used in evaluation of present investigations.

ground truth: The establishment of actual guilt or innocence. In a field study it is based on a criterion independent of the polygraph test (e.g., confession, judicial outcome, panel decision).

inconclusive: Outcome of an examination in which it cannot be determined from the subject’s responses whether he or she is deceptive or nondeceptive.

interaction: An occurrence which affects validity of polygraph testing because individual character traits or situational factors might result in unexpected physiological responses.

internal validity: The degree to which a study has controlled for extraneous variables which may be related to the study outcome.

irrelevant questions: Neutral questions designed to assess the subject’s baseline physiological response to questioning and to provide a rest between relevant questions.

numerical scoring: The assignment of numbers to polygraph chart responses.

physiological arousal: Responses related to increases in anxiety. Those measured in polygraph examinations include electrodermal response, blood pressure, and respiration rate.

polygraph chart: A continuous graph on which a subject’s physiological responses are registered.

predictive association: An index which measures the proportional reduction in the probability of error in predicting one category (in this case, deception) when the second category (in this case, polygraph examination results) is known.

predictive validity: The accuracy with which criterion scores obtained in the future can be estimated from test data obtained in the present.

preemployment screening: The use of polygraph testing to question employee applicants.

pretest interview: The first portion of the polygraph testing procedure in which subjects are informed about the examination and their rights. In some pretest interviews, examiners also make observations about subjects’ behavior to assist in determinations of deceptiveness or nondeceptiveness.

psychopathy: A psychiatric diagnostic category signifying a character style prone to criminal activity and amoral, manipulative behavior.

random sampling: A procedure used to obtain representative samples from a population. In complete random sampling, each subject in the population must have an equal chance of being selected and the selection or nonelection of one subject cannot influence the selection or nonselelction of another.

relevant/irrelevant technique: An examination technique that utilizes two types of questions: relevant questions and neutral questions intended to assess the subject’s baseline response.

relevant questions: Polygraph test questions about the topic or topics under investigation.

reliability: The degree to which a test yields repeatable results. Reliability also refers to consistency across examiners/scorers.

Sensitive Compartmented Information: Classified information above the top secret level.

socialization: The process in and by which individuals learn the ways, ideas, beliefs, values, patterns, and norms of a particular culture and adapts them as a part of their own personalities.

validity: A measure of the extent to which an observed situation reflects the “true" situation.