Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Despite convincing evidence of the polygraph instrument's lack of scientific validity and reliability in assessing deceptiveness in individuals, public-sector organizations in the United States continue to use the polygraph examination as a pre-employment screening tool. In addition to its lack of acceptance in the scientific community, little is known about the effectiveness of polygraph examinations, given as part of pre-employment screening, in predicting future misconduct in law enforcement officers. Two theoretical frameworks, Baumgartner and Jones' punctuated equilibrium model of policy change and Alvesson and Spicer's theory of functional stupidity, provided the theoretical foundation for this study. The purpose of this correlational study was to investigate the relationship between use of the pre-employment polygraph and officers' perceptions of police misconduct, which is a suspected precursor to actual future misconduct. Survey data were acquired through a convenience sample of 190 Ohio police officers. Data were analyzed using logistic regression. Findings revealed no statistically significant relationship between the pre-employment polygraph examination and officers' perceptions of police misconduct. The findings of this study begin to erode conventional thought that there are only positive aspects of the pre-employment polygraph. Law enforcement leaders and public policy makers such as police chiefs, county sheriffs, and local government administrators may benefit from this study. As a potential for positive social change, this study provides public policy makers with empirical data, as opposed to reliance on conventional wisdom and anecdotal evidence, for informed decision making about use of the pre-employment polygraph in public-sector hiring.