Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology and University Honors






Lie detectors and detection, Sex offenders -- Rehabilitation, Administration of criminal justice, Sex crimes -- Prevention




Recently the polygraph, despite its scientific dubiousness, has gained popularity across the globe within post-conviction sex offender management programs, even at times being mandated via judicial decree or legislation. Consequently, the application of this controversial device in sex offender rehabilitation has caused much heated, and at times muddled, debate amongst psychologists as to whether the polygraph is effective, or even ethical. This review surveys the current pool of literature concerning the efficacy and ethicality of the practice of post-conviction sex offender polygraph testing in order to give a clearer overview of the published literature, and to point at future directions and gaps in the research. While the psychological literature, as it stands, does offer up some promise in the polygraph’s ability to aid rehabilitation (increasing honest responding, positive outlook from offenders, etc.), little in the way of definitive proof exists concerning the polygraph’s ability to reduce recidivistic behavior. Additionally, a lack of consensus amongst psychologists, methodological weaknesses and severe gaps in the literature lead to a conclusion that post-conviction sex offender polygraph testing should be limited to a research capacity only, despite increased legislative support.


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