Because a polygrapher must infer deception from a pattern of physiological responses, any physical activity that alters a physiological response is a potential countermeasure. The trick is to know when you should enhance your responses so that you appear to be nervous (during control questions), and when you should attenuate your responses that you appear to be calm and relaxed (during relevant questions). The following list of physical countermeasures contains a variety of popular techniques. Many have been used in university studies assessing polygraph validity.
Breathing – If you appear calm and truthful, you should breathe at a calm, regular pace. A chart will indicate nervousness/deception if you deviate from slow, regular pattern in the following way: shallow, erratic gasps, holding, breathing rapidly through your nose.
Muscle Tension – To appear truthful, you should sit calmly and literally not move a muscle. You can then elevate your responses to the control questions by tensing and relaxing any major muscle groups.
Pressing the Toes – Unlike tensing a major muscle group, pressing the toes against the floor usually will not be detected by a specialized chair. To appear that you are experiencing anxiety in response to a particular question, all you need to do is press your toes hard against the floor for a few seconds and then release.
The Hidden Tack – Pressing your toe against a tack, even fairly lightly, will cause a violent deflection in the polygraph needles. Ingrown toenails will achieve the same result.
Biting the Tongue – Obviously, you should not try to bite your tongue while responding to a question. Immediately after you have answered, though, you should bite down hard for a few seconds and then release. Keep a straight face.
Antiperspirant – There is some anecdotal evidence suggesting that little antiperspirant on your fingertips will neutralize the GSR needle on the polygraph. This may be true just DO NOT go overboard with the antiperspirant.
Coughing, Sneezing and Yawning – Don’t waste your time with these. Everyone knows you can wipe out a polygraph test by coughing after every answer, ridiculous!
With the R/I test, you are expected to show an elevated response to one or two relevant questions because everyone is assumed to have done things in their lives that they would rather not admit. The polygrapher will focus on these few areas for the remainder of the test. Your plan should be to use a physical countermeasure (that is, show an elevated response) on one or two questions about which you really have no worries. Your goal is to get the examiner to focus in on these areas and leave more potentially damaging areas of your life alone.
Believe it or not, most polgraphers will only catch the most obvious and overt attempts at countermeasures. They simply do not expect you to have any training in countermeasures. This is a great advantage to you. As long as you do not get careless and sloppy, none but the very best examiners will have any idea that they’ve been had.
One last thought – people believe that if you lie all the time and try to live a second life as a liar, then none of these countermeasures are needed, because the lie becomes the truth and there is no lie. Keep Practicing and until next time!