DOLL, R. E., LAW, J. G., Jr., and PIOTROWSKI, C. A Literature Review of Cross-Cultural Factors Affecting Polygraph Testing. May 1990, DoDPI90-R-0004. Department of Defense Polygraph Institute, Ft. McClellan, AL 36205.--This report contains the results of a literary review of cultural factors which could influence the validity of polygraph examinations. Five general cultural factors were selected for study. For the purpose of this review, culture is defined by geographic area. The methodology consisted of a computer search of 11 databases. Telephone interviews were conducted with individuals actively involved in cultural research. Finally, an on-site visit to the University of Florida was conducted to allow for review of the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF). In addition to the literature review, a rational deductive approach is developed based upon Hofstede's model of cultural differentiation.
Key-words: cross-cultural factors, anxiety, avoidance, polygraph
This study represents an interesting but difficult undertaking designed to identify cultural factors which could influence the validity of psychophysiological detection of deception (PDD) tests. This issue is important in that American PDD examiners are increasingly confronted with situations, both at home and abroad, wherein the examinee is a member of a different culture.
The complexity of this undertaking is evidenced by the fact that of the more than 150 definitions of the word "culture," no single definition is widely accepted, thus making it unfeasible to adopt a classic anthropologistic definition. Add to this the dramatic differences between individuals within a culture and the challenges for the PDD examiner become evident.
A literature search by the authors could not identify any existing scientific evidence to suggest that cross-cultural factors have an impact on the validity of PDD tests. In fact, there is a paucity of research which even attempts to address these issues. While this study was unable to provide any specific answers to the myriad questions surrounding this topic, it is valuable as a reminder of a vast, unexplored research area within the discipline of Forensic Psychophysiology. Examiners and researchers alike should remain vigilant for data and other clues that will add clarity to this interesting puzzle.