Polygraphs and Reconstructive Memory Essays

874 Words 4 Pages
1) Summarize the means by which the polygraph works as a lie detector. What two major problems call its accuracy into question?

A lie detector is an electronic device that records an individual’s physiological arousal when asked yes or no questions. There are two types of questions that the examiner will ask the individual in order to measure the individual’s arousal. The first types of questions are questions relevant to the crime being investigated. The second types of questions are called control questions. These questions are unrelated to the crime. Asking these questions allows the examiner to determine if the individual shows more physiological arousal when asked questions relating to the crime rather than questions that are
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Even though lie detectors are used a great deal to rule out people of interest in an investigation, many judges refuse to allow the results of a lie detector test as evidence in court. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first reason is due to the fact that some people who are not lying fail the test. The other reason is because people can learn how to manipulate the results (Kassin, Fein & Markus, 2010). In other words, these people are lying, but the examiner cannot conclude that because the arousal is present when asked both types of questions. Individuals that have manipulated the test have used techniques to cause arousal when asked non-relevant questions. A couple examples are tightening muscles or squeezing toes (Kassin, Fein & Markus, 2010).

2) Summarize the theory of reconstructive memory as it relates to eyewitness testimony. What does the research suggest about the use of such testimony from children?
Elizabeth Loftus developed the reconstructive memory theory. According to this theory eyewitness testimonies are sometimes inaccurate due to reconstruction of the memory (Kassin, Fein & Markus, 2010). Loftus explains that when individuals witness an event the information is incorporated into the brain with old and new information. When this information is incorporated with the individual’s personal experiences, intentions and self-perception the result is distorted memory of the actual event. Loftus goes on to explain

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