Accuracy and Validity of Polygraph Testing

Scientific research has shown polygraph examinations to be highly accurate, making them very useful in the criminal justice system. The American Polygraph Association (APA) requires the following to be met before an examination can be considered valid.

  1. The polygraph examiner must be properly trained and must use an accepted procedure and scoring system.
  2. The polygraph equipment must record, at a minimum, cardiovascular, respiratory, and electrodermal activity.

The following summarizes research data collected by the APA.



Average Accuracy

Field examinations

12 studies
2,174 examinations


Field examinations
(Independent analyses)

11 studies
1,609 examinations


Laboratory simulations

41 studies
1,787 lab simulations


Laboratory simulations
(Independent analyses)

16 studies
810 lab simulations


           Source: American Polygraph Association