The Air Force Modified General Question Test (AFMGQT) stands as a pivotal development in the field of polygraph examination, tailored specifically to meet the unique requirements and challenges faced by the Air Force in security and intelligence operations. This specialized adaptation of the traditional polygraph test incorporates nuanced modifications to enhance its effectiveness and reliability in high-stakes environments.

The Air Force Modified General Question Test (AFMGQT) is a polygraph examination method designed for use in specific situations, incorporating a variety of question types such as relevant, probable-lie, sacrifice-relevant, and irrelevant questions. It’s adaptable for single-issue, multiple-facet, and mixed-issue examinations, with some versions allowing directed-lie comparison questions. This format was detailed in works by Senter, Waller, and Krapohl in 2008​​.

Origins and Evolution

The AFMGQT was developed as a response to the need for a more nuanced and sensitive approach to polygraph testing within the Air Force. Recognizing the specific contexts and types of information that are of particular relevance to Air Force operations, this modified test was designed to better identify deceptive responses related to matters of national security, classified information, and internal compliance.

Key Features of the AFMGQT

The AFMGQT distinguishes itself from standard polygraph tests through several key modifications:

  1. Focused Questioning: The test is characterized by a set of carefully crafted questions that are directly relevant to Air Force operations, security protocols, and sensitive information handling. This focus increases the likelihood of detecting deceptive responses related to critical security matters.
  2. Enhanced Sensitivity: Adjustments in the scoring system and the interpretation of physiological responses aim to enhance the sensitivity of the test to subtle indications of deception or stress, which may be indicative of security breaches or unauthorized disclosures.
  3. Contextual Calibration: The test is calibrated to take into account the unique pressures and stresses associated with military life and Air Force duties, ensuring that the physiological responses are interpreted in the most accurate context possible.

Applications of the AFMGQT

The AFMGQT is utilized in various scenarios within the Air Force, from pre-employment screening and periodic security clearance reviews to investigations into specific incidents or suspicions of unauthorized activities. Its applications extend to:

  • Security Clearance: Ensuring that individuals with access to classified or sensitive information remain compliant with security protocols.
  • Internal Investigations: Providing a tool for investigating specific incidents or allegations related to security breaches, espionage, or other unauthorized activities.
  • Operational Security: Assessing the reliability and trustworthiness of personnel involved in critical missions or operations.

Advantages and Challenges

The AFMGQT offers several advantages, including increased relevance to Air Force needs, improved detection of security-relevant deception, and enhanced reliability in high-stakes environments. However, like all polygraph tests, it faces challenges related to the interpretation of physiological responses, the potential for false positives or negatives, and the psychological pressure on examinees.

Ethical and Legal Considerations

The use of the AFMGQT, especially in sensitive or high-stakes situations, necessitates careful consideration of ethical and legal standards. Issues related to privacy, consent, and the potential consequences of test outcomes are paramount, requiring stringent protocols and oversight to ensure fair and ethical treatment of all individuals subjected to the test.

The Air Force Modified General Question Test represents a significant advancement in the application of polygraph technology within the military context, particularly for the Air Force. By tailoring the traditional polygraph examination to address the specific security concerns and operational contexts of the Air Force, the AFMGQT offers a more effective tool for safeguarding national security and ensuring the integrity of Air Force operations. As with all tools of this nature, its use must be balanced with a commitment to ethical standards and the protection of individual rights, ensuring that it serves the best interests of both national security and the principles of justice.

Air Force Modified General Question Test Validation Study

NCJ Number
Polygraph Volume: 37 Issue: 3 Dated: 2008 Pages: 174-184
Stuart Senter; James Waller; Donald Krapohl
Date Published
11 pages