What Questions Are Asked on a Police Polygraph

What Questions Are Asked on a Police Polygraph?

Polygraph examinations, commonly known as lie detector tests, have been used by law enforcement agencies for decades as a tool to help assess the truthfulness of individuals during investigations. These tests are designed to measure physiological responses such as blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration, and skin conductivity, which are believed to be indicative of deception. While the specific questions asked during a police polygraph examination may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the investigation, there are some common themes and frequently asked questions (FAQs) that can shed light on what to expect during one of these tests.


1. What is a police polygraph?
A police polygraph is a test conducted by law enforcement agencies to determine the truthfulness of information provided by individuals during investigations.

2. How does a polygraph work?
A polygraph measures physiological responses such as blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration, and skin conductivity while a person is asked a series of questions. Deviations from a person’s baseline responses may indicate deception.

3. What types of questions are asked during a polygraph?
Questions asked during a police polygraph can be divided into three categories: relevant, control, and irrelevant. Relevant questions pertain directly to the investigation, control questions are used as a comparison, and irrelevant questions are unrelated but help establish the baseline.

4. What are relevant questions?
Relevant questions are directly related to the investigation or the offense being examined. For example, if the investigation involves theft, a relevant question could be, “Did you steal the item in question?”

5. What are control questions?
Control questions are designed to elicit physiological responses from the test-taker, regardless of their truthfulness. These questions often involve general honesty, such as, “Have you ever lied to someone you cared about?”

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6. Why are control questions included?
Control questions help establish the baseline physiological responses of the individual being tested. These responses are then used as a comparison to determine if there are significant changes during relevant questions.

7. What are irrelevant questions?
Irrelevant questions are unrelated to the investigation but are asked to further establish the baseline responses of the individual being tested. Examples of irrelevant questions could be, “Is today Monday?”

8. Are all polygraph questions yes or no?
No, polygraph questions can be open-ended, multiple-choice, or require a simple “yes” or “no” response, depending on the format used by the examiner.

9. Can individuals refuse to answer certain questions during a polygraph?
Yes, individuals can refuse to answer specific questions during a polygraph. However, their refusal may be seen as an indication of possible deception.

10. Are personal beliefs or opinions questioned during a polygraph?
No, personal beliefs or opinions are not typically questioned during a polygraph. The focus is on obtaining information relevant to the investigation.

11. Can polygraphs be used against individuals in court?
In most jurisdictions, the results of a polygraph examination are not admissible as evidence in court due to concerns about their reliability. However, they can be used as a tool during investigations.

12. Do polygraphs always provide accurate results?
Polygraph results are not foolproof and can be influenced by various factors, including the individual’s mental state, anxiety levels, and the examiner’s skills. Therefore, they are considered to be a supplemental tool rather than definitive proof of deception.

While the specific questions asked during a police polygraph will depend on the circumstances of the investigation, understanding the general categories of questions and how the test works can help individuals prepare. It is important to note that the accuracy and reliability of polygraph examinations have been a subject of debate, and their use as an investigative tool remains controversial.

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