The use of acquaintance tests in polygraph examinations plays a pivotal role in assessing the truthfulness of individuals. These tests are an integral part of polygraphy, dating back to its inception. Their primary objective is to aid in distinguishing between truth and deception, tailoring to the specific needs of each examinee and situation.


Acquaintance tests have evolved with numerous variations, yet no definitive research has conclusively determined the most effective type. The effectiveness of an acquaintance test is contingent upon its ability to meet the primary goal of discerning truth from falsehood. This decision may vary depending on the examinee’s specific characteristics, and in certain cases, an examiner may opt not to use any acquaintance test.

Purposes of the Acquaintance Test

  1. Familiarization with Testing Procedures: The test helps acquaint the examinee with the polygraph testing process.
  2. Understanding Examinee’s Physiological Patterns: It provides insights into the examinee’s normal physiological responses.
  3. Instrument Calibration: The test aids in setting appropriate instrument gains and centerings.
  4. Examinee Cooperation Assessment: It tests for the examinee’s cooperation and checks for any countermeasures.
  5. Psychological Impact: The test aims to reassure innocent individuals and focus those who are guilty.
  6. Responsivity Adjustment: It helps in increasing or decreasing the examinee’s responsivity to questions.
  7. Examiner Practice: The test offers practice for the examiner in conducting and interpreting Peak of Tension tests.
  8. Drug Influence Detection: It helps in identifying evidence of drug use, such as unresponsive tracings or unusual tonic physiological levels.

Popular Acquaintance Tests

  1. Federal Acquaintance Test
    • Materials: Paper, pen.
    • Procedure: Involves having the examinee write a number and answer a series of questions about it while being monitored.
  2. True Blue Control Test
    • Materials: Index cards, red and blue pens.
    • Procedure: This test uses color-coded cards and requires the examinee to tell lies or truths based on the card color.
  3. Fail-Proof Blind Numbers Test
    • Materials: Pen, paper.
    • Procedure: The examinee writes a number secretly and then is tested on a series of numbers, including the one written.
  4. Calibration Verification of Sensitivity (CVOS)
    • Materials: None.
    • Procedure: It consists of a series of questions, including a math question and inquiries about drug use, to calibrate the instrument to the examinee’s responses.

Each of these tests has its unique strengths and is selected based on the examinee’s education, age, attitude, background, and prior experience with polygraph tests.


Acquaintance tests in polygraph examinations serve multiple crucial functions, from calibrating the instrument to assessing the examinee’s physiological and psychological responses. The choice of the test and its effectiveness largely depends on the individual characteristics of the examinee and the skills of the examiner.

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