Standards of Practice
As of 28.1.2014
Statement of Purpose
A polygraph examination, properly administered by a well trained and competent polygraph examiner using a valid testing and analysis protocol is the most accurate means known to science for determining whether a person has been truthful.
In order to promote the highest degree of accuracy, the IPEO based on the Standards of the IPEO & APA, established the following Standards of Practice.
Moreover, all examinations are required to be conducted in compliance with governing local, state, and federal regulations and laws.
- "Standards": The generally accepted principles for the preparation, conduct, analysis, documentation, and reporting of polygraph examinations. Standards are mandatory.
- "Guidelines": Recommended practices for the preparation, conduct, analysis, documentation and reporting of polygraph examinations. Guidelines convey perceived best practices, are recommendations and are non-enforceable by the IPEO & APA.
- "Polygraph examination": A psychophysiological detection of deception interview and testing process encompassing all activities occurring between a polygraph examiner and an examinee during a series of interactions that include a pretest interview as applicable, recording of physiological data, the test data analysis, and rendering a professional opinion. Nothing in these standards is intended to prevent admission as evidence of a confession or other information obtained during a polygraph examination.
- "Evidentiary Examination": A polygraph examination in which the written and stated purpose agreed to by the parties involved is to provide a diagnostic opinion as evidence in a pending judicial proceeding.
- "Paired Testing Examination": Polygraph examinations conducted in tandem on 2 or more individuals regarding a single central contested fact to which all examinees must know the truth thereof. Paired-testing is used by voluntary stipulation between the testifying parties to resolve disputed facts.
- "Investigative Examination": A polygraph examination which is intended to supplement and/or assist an investigation and for which the examiner has not been informed and does not reasonably believe that the results of the examination will be tendered for admission as evidence in a court proceeding.
- "Diagnostic examination": An event-specific evidentiary or investigative polygraph examination conducted to assist in determining the veracity of an examinee regarding their knowledge of or involvement in a reported issue or allegation. Diagnostic examinations may address a single aspect or multiple-facets of an event for which the examination questions are intended to describe different roles or levels of involvement.
- "Screening examination": A polygraph examination conducted in the absence of a reported issue or allegation to investigate whether an examinee has withheld information regarding engagement in behaviors encompassed by the relevant questions that cover specified periods of time. Screening examinations may be designed to investigate both single and multiple types of behavior.
- "Test Data Analysis": Test data analysis in polygraph refers to any structured method, whether manual or automated, for the evaluation and interpretation of the recorded physiological data into categorical test decisions concerning the examinee's truthfulness or concealed knowledge. Decisions for diagnostic and screening examinations include:
- Diagnostic Opinion: A professional opinion based on the results of a polygraph technique that meets the criterion validity requirements for evidentiary testing or paired testing. The results of deception tests are normally reported using the terms Deception Indicated, No Deception Indicated, Inconclusive, and No Opinion (DI or NDI, INC, or NO).
- Test results of recognition tests are normally reported using the terms Recognition Indicated, No Recognition Indicated, or No Opinion (RI, NRI, NO).
- Screening Opinion: A professional opinion based on the results of a polygraph technique that meets the requirements for screening purposes, normally reported using the terms Significant Response, No Significant Response, Inconclusive or No Opinion (SR, NSR, INC, or NO).
- A polygraph examiner shall meet the training and educational requirements of his or her category of membership as set forth in this document.
- Polygraph examinations of sex offenders as a condition of treatment, probation or parole shall be conducted by members who have completed specialized training consistent with standards found in section "Standards for Post-Conviction Sex Offender Testing (PCSOT)"
- A polygraph examiner shall, where applicable, comply with all state continuing education requirements.
- Practicing examiners shall complete a minimum of 30 continuing education hours every two years in coursework related to the field of polygraphy.
- A practicing examiner shall be defined as any member who has conducted polygraph training, quality assurance, or examinations in the previous two years.
- Examiners are responsible for maintaining records to document that they have met the continuing education requirement.
- Examiners shall accurately represent their category of IPEO & APA membership, their academic credentials, their licensure, and their certification status.
- Polygraph examiners conducting PCSOT tests shall have at least half of their required 30 continuing education hours specific to issues dealing with the testing, treatment or supervision of sex offenders.
- The examiner shall make reasonable efforts to determine that the examinee is a fit subject for testing. Basic inquires into the medical and psychological condition of the examinee as well as any recent drug use shall be made where allowed by law.
- Mental, physical or medical conditions of the examinee that should be observable to, or that should be reasonably known by the examiner, are required to be considered in conducting and evaluating the examination.
- During the pretest interview, where allowed by law, the examiner shall specifically inquire of the person to be examined whether or not he or she is currently receiving or has in the past received medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment or consultation.
- If an examiner has a reasonable doubt concerning the ability of an examinee to safely undergo an examination, a release from the examinee and his or her physician is required.
Instrumentation and Recording
- Polygraph examinations shall be conducted with instrumentation that records with, at a minimum, the following physiological data:
- Respiration patterns recorded by pneumograph components. Thoracic and abdominal patterns should be recorded separately, using two pneumograph components.
- Electrodermal activity reflecting relative changes in the conductance or resistance of current by the epidermal tissue.
- Cardiovascular activity including changes in relative blood pressure, pulse rate and pulse amplitude.
- A motion sensor is required for all examinations.
- Other physiological data may also be recorded during testing, but may not be used to formulate decisions of truthfulness or deception unless validated in replicated and published research.
- Physiological recordings during each test shall be continuous, and of sufficient amplitude to be easily readable by the examiner and any reviewing examiner.
- Pneumograph and cardiograph tracings between one-half inch and one inch in amplitude, at the time of data collection, will be considered of sufficient size to be easily readable.
- The polygraph instrument shall be given a functionality or calibration test consistent with manufacturer recommendations and in compliance with state and federal law.
- In the absence of manufacturer's recommendations, examiners should semi-annually record a chart demonstrating correct functioning of the instrument.
- A functionality or calibration test shall be administered prior to and on the day of all evidentiary examinations and paired testing examinations.
Test Location and Conditions
- Conditions under which testing occurs should be free from distractions.
- Examiners conducting polygraph examinations during public viewing are prohibited from rendering opinions regarding the truthfulness of the examinees on the basis of that examination.
- Examiners should ensure that reenactments of polygraph examinations are clearly conveyed as such to viewers. Should the examiner determine that the reenactment will not or has not been clearly conveyed as a reenactment, the examiner shall immediately notify the IPEO.
Prior to an examination, the examiner shall dedicate sufficient time to identify the issues and any potential problem in any area of testing.
- The examiner shall obtain information sufficient to identify the examinee.
- The examiner shall obtain the consent of the examinee prior to testing. It is recommended the consent of the examinee be obtained after there is a reasonable understanding of the polygraph process, including the duration, the issues to be covered, and the instrumentation to be used.
- Sufficient time shall be spent during the pretest interview to ensure that the examinee has a reasonable understanding of the polygraph process and the requirements for cooperation.
- Sufficient time shall be spent to discuss the issues to be tested and to allow the examinee to fully explain his or her answers.
- Sufficient time shall be spent to ensure the examinee recognizes and understands each question. Attempts by the examinee to rationalize should be neutralized by a pretest discussion in which the examinee demonstrates he or she understands the test questions to have the same meaning as does the examiner.
- Questions shall be asked in a form that would prevent a reasonable person, facing a significant issue, from successfully engaging in a rationalization process.
- The examiner shall not display or express bias in any manner regarding the truthfulness of the examinee prior to the completion of testing.
- A member polygraph examiner shall use a validated testing technique.
- A testing technique shall be considered valid if supported by research conducted in accordance with the IPEO & APA’s research standards.
- Upon request for a minimum of 5 years from publication, researchers of polygraph techniques shall provide reasonable access to validation data for critical review.
- Where examinations deviate from the protocols of a validated testing technique the deviations should be noted and justified in writing.
- Polygraph techniques for evidentiary examinations shall be those for which there exists at least two published empirical studies, original and replicated, demonstrating an unweighted average accuracy rate of 90% or greater, excluding inconclusives, which shall not exceed 20%.
- Polygraph techniques for paired testing shall be those for which there exists at least two published empirical studies, original and replicated, demonstrating an unweighted average accuracy rate of 86% or greater, excluding inconclusives, which shall not exceed 20%.
- Polygraph techniques for investigative testing shall be those for which there exists at least two published empirical studies, original and replicated, demonstrating an unweighted average accuracy rate of 80% or greater, excluding inconclusives, which shall not exceed 20%.
- Polygraph techniques used for screening purposes shall be those for which there exists at least two published empirical studies, original and replicated, demonstrating an unweighted accuracy rate that is significantly greater than chance, and should be used in a “successive hurdles” approach which entails additional testing with validated methods when the screening test is not favorably resolved.
- Nothing in these standards of practice shall be construed as preventing examiners and researchers from investigating and developing improved methods.
- Polygraph techniques that do not meet these standards for validation shall be considered experimental methods.
- Field examiners who employ experimental techniques shall be in compliance with applicable law related to human subject research and should inform the examinee and the party requesting the examination of the use of an experimental techniques. Results from experimental techniques used in field settings shall not be used in isolation to render diagnostic or screening decisions.
- Nothing in these standards of practice shall be construed as prohibiting the use of other supportive methodologies that do not meet the requirements of these standards. However, non-validated techniques shall not be used in isolation to render screening or diagnostic decisions.
- Each member shall conduct an acquaintance test for all evidentiary, paired-testing, initial community safety and initial investigative examinations.
- Questions shall be asked with clarity and distinctiveness.
- Questions used in the assessment of truth and deception shall be followed by time intervals of not less then 20 seconds from question onset to question onset.
- When validated and replicated research supports the use of another time interval, that time interval will be acceptable.
- Standardized chart markings, recognized and utilized within the polygraph profession shall be employed.
- An audio and video recording of the pretest and in-test phases shall be made and maintained as part of the examination file, consistent with regulation and law, and for a minimum of one year, for all evidentiary and paired-testing examinations.
- Audio and video recording should be used for community safety examinations.
- A member polygraph examiner shall not conduct more than four diagnostic or three evidentiary examinations in one day, and no more than five examinations of any type in one day.
- On rare occasion, exigent circumstances may warrant a waiver of this requirement.
- Examiner conclusions and opinions shall be based on validated scoring methods and decision rules.
- Examiner notes of the test evaluation shall have sufficient clarity and precision so that another examiner could read them.
- Examiners shall not disclose the results of the examination until the analysis has been completed.
- Examiners shall maintain the confidentiality of their work conducted under privilege until a release by the client is obtained.
- An examiner subject to a quality control evaluation of a case shall fully disclose all pertinent information regarding the case under review.
- Examiners conducting polygraph examinations should submit to a quality control review of their work product at least annually.
- The submitted examination should be recorded in its entirety unless precluded by law or government policy, or it should be witnessed in its entirety by the reviewing examiner.
Standards for Post-Conviction Sex Offender Testing (PCSOT)
- PCSOT examiners shall satisfy the provisions set forth in the Standards of Practice as well as the following mandatory standards:
- Minimum Training:
- A minimum of 40 hours of specialized instruction, beyond the basic polygraph training course requirements, through PCSOT training approved by the IPEO & APA.
- In the event an examiner attends and successfully completes the advanced training prior to completing 200 polygraph examinations, the examiner shall participate in an internship program consisting of at least 10 PCSOT examinations, under the supervision of a recognized PCSOT examiner.
- Upon successful completion of testing mentioned above, the examiner will receive an IPEO certificate reflecting satisfactory completion of training requirements.
- Written Examination:
- Passing a final written examination, approved by the IPEO & APA or its designated representative shall occur prior to receiving the IPEO certification for the training.
- The written examinations shall be properly controlled and protected to prevent exposure of the test questions or answers to any unauthorized persons.
- Recording Requirements:
- All PCSOT polygraph examinations submitted for quality control shall be audio/visually recorded in their entirety.
- When required for quality control purposes, these recordings shall be made available.
- All recorded physiological data shall be retained as part of the examination file as long as required by regulation or law, but for a minimum of one year when not in conflict with regulation or law.
- Conflict of Interest:
- PCSOT examiners who are therapists/treatment providers shall not conduct polygraph examinations on an individual that they directly or indirectly treat or supervise.
- PCSOT examiners who are probation or parole officers shall not conduct a polygraph examination on any individual that they directly or indirectly supervise.