Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Mark Stallo


Controversy continues over the use of polygraph testing to deter and detect potential leakers as critics argue that the technique is based on faulty assumptions. The purpose of this descriptive and exploratory research study was to determine whether there was a perceived deterrence effect related to the use of polygraphs between a group of participants who were subjected to a polygraph examination within the past year compared to those who have not experienced a polygraph examination within the same time period. Paternoster and Simpson's, as well as Vance and Siponen's, rational choice models and Bandura's social learning theory served as the theoretical foundation for this study. Specifically, this study assessed groups' perceptions about adhering to security regulations if a polygraph is required, changes in their behavior and attitude, and beliefs about polygraph deterrent effect. Data were obtained through a 15-minute researcher- created survey with a cluster sample of 326 participants. Data were analyzed with a t test to determine whether there was a statistically significant difference between the groups. A factor analysis was also conducted. Results indicated that there was a statistically significant difference (p < .001) between the groups, suggesting that participants perceive a deterrent effect associated with the use of polygraphs as well as a change of behavior and attitude if a polygraph can be randomly administered at work. The implications for positive social change stemming from this study include recommendations to the nation's national security agencies to continue enforcing the polygraph examinations required of certain security personnel and exploring the possibility of expanding the use of such strategies in order to fortify the national intelligence infrastructure.