When the need for truth is critical, Alabama Polygraph can help you uncover what's really underneath. We have administered thousands of polygraphs over the past 30 years for private individuals, corporations and law enforcement. We've found that polygraph has proven to be valuable in the following areas:
Identifying the Guilty
Clearing the Wrongfully Accused
Allegations of Child Physical/Sexual Abuse
Law Enforcement & Security Screening
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How Polygraph Works
A polygraph instrument is basically a combination of medical devices that are used to monitor changes occurring in the body. As a person is questioned about a certain event or incident, the examiner looks to see how the person's heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and electro-dermal activity (sweatiness, in this case of the fingers) change in comparison to normal levels. Fluctuations may indicate that person is being deceptive, but exam results are open to interpretation by the examiner.
Source: Lafayette Instrument Physiological responses recorded by a polygraph
Polygraph exams are most often associated with criminal investigations, but there are other instances in which they are used. You may one day be subject to a polygraph exam before being hired for a job: Many government entities, and some private-sector employers, will require or ask you to undergo a polygraph exam prior to employment.
Polygraph examinations are designed to look for significant involuntary responses going on in a person's body when that person is subjected to stress, such as the stress associated with deception. The exams are not able to specifically detect if a person is lying, but there are certain physiological responses that most of us undergo when attempting to deceive another person. By asking questions about a particular issue under investigation and examining a subject's physiological reactions to those questions, a polygraph examiner can determine if deceptive behavior is being demonstrated.
Photo courtesy Lafayette Instrument Parts of a polygraph that monitor physiological responses
When you sit down in the chair for a polygraph exam, several tubes and wires are connected to your body in specific locations to monitor your physiological activities. Deceptive behavior is supposed to trigger certain physiological changes that can be detected by a polygraph and a trained examiner, who is sometimes called a forensic psycho physiologist (FP). This examiner is looking for the amount of fluctuation in certain physiological activities. Here's a list of physiological activities that are monitored by the polygraph and how they are monitored:
Respiratory rate - Two pneumographs, rubber tubes filled with air, are placed around the test subject's chest and abdomen. When the chest or abdominal muscles expand, the air inside the tubes is displaced. In an analog polygraph, the displaced air acts on a bellows, an accordion-like device that contracts when the tubes expand. This bellows is attached to a mechanical arm, which is connected to an ink-filled pen that makes marks on the scrolling paper when the subject takes a breath.
Blood pressure/heart rate - A blood-pressure cuff is placed around the subject's upper arm. Tubing runs from the cuff to the polygraph. As blood pumps through the arm it makes sound; the changes in pressure caused by the sound displace the air in the tubes, which are connected to a bellows, which moves the pen.
Galvanic skin resistance (GSR) - This is also called electro-dermal activity, and is basically a measure of the sweat on your fingertips. The finger tips are one of the most porous areas on the body and so are good places to look for sweat. The idea is that we sweat more when we are placed under stress. Fingerplates, called galvanometers, are attached to two of the subject's fingers. These plates measure the skin's ability to conduct electricity. When the skin is hydrated (as with sweat), it conducts electricity much more easily than when it is dry.
Some polygraphs also record arm and leg movements. As the examiner asks questions, signals from the sensors connected to your body are recorded on a single strip of moving paper.
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