Have you ever taken a test where the result was neither a clear “yes” nor a definitive “no”? This can be frustrating, particularly if the stakes are high. An inconclusive polygraph test is one such test that can leave you with a vague and ambiguous outcome.
An inconclusive polygraph test is a test result that falls in between the categories of “truthful” and “deceptive.” Essentially, it means that the test has not been able to determine with sufficient accuracy whether you are telling the truth or not. In some cases, an inconclusive result may be the result of external factors, such as anxiety or other forms of stress. In other cases, it may be due to the limitations of the polygraph test itself or because the examiner cannot make a definitive determination of truthfulness or deception based on the data obtained during the test.
This type of result can be frustrating and confusing, leaving you with unanswered questions about your honesty and integrity. However, it is important to understand that an inconclusive result does not necessarily mean that you have lied or that the test was flawed. Rather, it simply means that the data collected during the test was insufficient to make a conclusive determination of truthfulness or deception.
In the following sections, we will explore the possible reasons for an inconclusive result, the implications of such a result, and the steps you can take in response to an inconclusive test result.
Reasons why an inconclusive result may occur
There could be various reasons for an inconclusive polygraph result. These reasons may include:
- Physical factors: Certain physical factors can interfere with the accuracy of the polygraph. For example, if you are experiencing pain, discomfort, or illness during the test, it can affect your physiological responses and lead to an inconclusive result. Similarly, if you have consumed alcohol or drugs before the test, it can interfere with the accuracy of the results.
- Psychological factors: psychological factors like stress, anxiety, or nervousness can also cause an inconclusive result. These factors can affect your physiological responses and make it difficult for the examiner to differentiate between truthful and deceptive responses.
- Inadequate preparation: If you were not adequately prepared for the test, it can lead to an inconclusive result. Preparation involves being familiar with the testing process and having a clear understanding of the questions you will be asked. If you are not adequately prepared, it can lead to confusion or misunderstandings during the test, resulting in an inconclusive result.
- Technical issues: issues like malfunctioning equipment, inadequate calibration, or errors in data analysis can also cause an inconclusive result. These issues can lead to inaccurate or inconsistent results that do not provide a clear indication of truthfulness or deception.
- Unanswered or unclear questions: If the questions asked during the test are unanswered or unclear, it can lead to an inconclusive result. This may occur if the examiner does not ask follow-up questions or if the questions themselves are vague or open-ended.
- Test length: The length of the test can also affect its accuracy. If the test is too short, it may not provide enough data to reach a definitive conclusion. Conversely, if the test is too long, it can lead to fatigue or boredom, which can affect your physiological responses.
- Examiner bias: Examiner bias can also affect the accuracy of the test. If the examiner has a preconceived notion of your guilt or innocence, it can affect their interpretation of your physiological responses and lead to an inconclusive result.
- Poor test conditions: Poor test conditions, such as noise or distraction in the testing environment, can also lead to inconclusive results. If the testing environment is not conducive to accurate data collection, it can lead to an inconclusive result.
- Inexperience or incompetence of the examiner: If the examiner administering the test is inexperienced or incompetent, they may not properly interpret your physiological responses, leading to an inconclusive result.
- Language barrier: If you are not fluent in the language being used during the test, it may be difficult for you to fully understand the questions being asked, leading to an inconclusive result.
- Interrogation techniques: The way the questions are asked during the test can also affect the results. If the examiner uses aggressive or intimidating interrogation techniques, it can lead to an inconclusive or inaccurate result.
Implications of an Inconclusive Polygraph Test Result
One of the most immediate implications is that an inconclusive result can lead to additional testing. This means that you may be required to take another polygraph test, which can be a time-consuming and stressful process. Additionally, if the inconclusive result is related to an ongoing investigation, it may delay the investigation or result in further questioning.
If you are being evaluated for a job or security clearance, an inconclusive result can potentially lead to a loss of opportunities or clearance.
Finally, an inconclusive result can have negative mental implications for the individual being tested. Even if they are innocent, an inconclusive result can cast doubt on their credibility and potentially harm their reputation. This is particularly true if the test is conducted in a public setting, as the inconclusive result may be misconstrued by the public or the media as a sign of guilt.
Legal Implications of an Inconclusive Polygraph Test Result
When it comes to legal proceedings, an inconclusive polygraph test result can have significant implications. While a polygraph test is generally not admissible as evidence in court, it can still play a role in investigations and plea bargains.
If a polygraph test result is inconclusive, it may not be helpful in convincing a prosecutor to drop charges or to convince a judge or jury of your innocence. In fact, it may raise doubts and make it more difficult for your defense.
On the other hand, if you are the accuser and the polygraph test result is inconclusive, it may weaken your case and make it harder to get a conviction.
Moreover, the mere fact that you have taken a polygraph test and received an inconclusive result may be seen as suspicious by law enforcement and lead to further investigation or interrogation. This can be a very stressful and unpleasant experience and may result in additional charges or harm to your reputation.
How an inconclusive result may be viewed by the court or other legal entities
The court or other legal entities may view an inconclusive result in various ways, depending on the context of the case. In some situations, an inconclusive result may be seen as neutral, and the legal entity may proceed with the case as if the polygraph test never happened. In other cases, an inconclusive result may be viewed negatively, and the legal entity may interpret it as evidence of your deception or refusal to cooperate.
For example, in some criminal cases, the prosecutor may use an inconclusive result to suggest that you are hiding something or that you are not willing to cooperate with the investigation. The prosecutor may argue that your unwillingness to cooperate shows that you are guilty and have something to hide. In contrast, in other cases, an inconclusive result may be viewed as a sign that the evidence against you is not strong enough to convict you, and the court may decide to dismiss the case.
It’s also essential to understand that the admissibility of polygraph results in court varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions, polygraph results are not admissible as evidence in court, while in others they may be. Therefore, an inconclusive result may not be relevant to the case if polygraph results are not admissible as evidence.
Steps that can be taken to challenge an inconclusive polygraph test
If you have received an inconclusive result on a polygraph test and believe that the result is inaccurate, you may want to take steps to challenge it. Here are some steps that you can take to challenge an inconclusive polygraph test:
- Obtain the test records: If you haven’t already, obtain a copy of the polygraph test records. These records will include the questions asked during the test, the physiological responses measured, and the examiner’s interpretation of the results.
- Review the records: Go over the records carefully to make sure that the examiner followed proper procedures during the test. If you notice any discrepancies or irregularities, you may be able to use this information to challenge the results.
- Consult with a polygraph expert: Consider consulting with an experienced expert in the field of polygraphs who can review the test records and provide an opinion on the accuracy of the results.
- File a complaint: If you believe that the examiner acted unethically or violated your rights during the test, you may want to file a complaint with the appropriate regulatory agency. For example, in the United States, complaints can be filed with the American Polygraph Association or the National Polygraph Association.
- Request a retest: If you believe that the inconclusive result was due to technical or procedural errors, you may be able to request a retest. Contact the agency or organization that administered the test and explain your concerns. They may agree to administer a new test with a different examiner or under different conditions.
But most importantly;
- Stay calm: Receiving an inconclusive polygraph test result can be a frustrating experience, but it is important to remain calm and not let your emotions get the best of you. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that there could be many reasons why the test produced an inconclusive result.
- Ask for clarification: If you are not sure what the inconclusive result means or why it was produced, you can ask the examiner for clarification. They should be able to explain the result to you and give you some idea of why it may have occurred.
Strategies for preparing for a subsequent test or appeal
If you are preparing for a subsequent test or appeal following an inconclusive polygraph test result, there are several strategies you can use to increase your chances of success. Here are some steps you can take:
- Understand the process: It is important to understand the process of the subsequent test or appeal and what will be expected of you. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the rules and procedures that will be followed and what kind of evidence will be admissible.
- Review the questions: Review the questions that were asked during the previous test and consider whether there were any ambiguities or misunderstandings. If so, make sure that you clarify these issues with the examiner prior to the subsequent test or appeal.
- Consult with an expert: Consider consulting with an expert in the field. They can provide valuable insights and advice on how to prepare for the subsequent test or appeal and increase your chances of success.
- Remain calm and focused: Finally, it is important to remain calm and focused during the subsequent test or appeal. Try to stay relaxed and focused on the task at hand, and avoid getting distracted or letting your emotions get the best of you.
Coping with the emotional and psychological impact of an inconclusive result
Dealing with the emotional and psychological impact of an inconclusive result can be a difficult experience. It’s important to remember that an inconclusive result does not mean that you are guilty of lying, and there are many factors that can contribute to an inconclusive result.
It’s important to acknowledge your feelings of frustration, disappointment, and even anger. These emotions are valid and normal. However, it’s important not to dwell on these feelings for too long. Instead, try to focus on what you can control and what steps you can take moving forward.
One helpful step is to seek support from loved ones or a professional therapist. Talking about your feelings with someone who understands them can help you process and move on from the experience. Additionally, a therapist can help you develop coping strategies for dealing with any lingering emotions and work through any underlying issues that may have contributed to your inconclusive result.
Another helpful step is to take care of yourself physically and mentally. Engage in activities that you enjoy, get enough sleep, and practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation or yoga. Taking care of yourself can help you feel more in control and better equipped to handle any challenges that may come your way.
In conclusion, an inconclusive polygraph result can be frustrating and emotionally draining, but it is important to remember that it is not necessarily indicative of deception.
If you receive an inconclusive result, it is important to resist the temptation to draw conclusions or make assumptions about your guilt or innocence. Instead, focus on the facts of the situation and the possible factors that could have affected the test results. Seek out the guidance of a qualified professional who can help you interpret the results and provide you with support.