South Orangetown Central School District

TZHS AP Psychology students had the opportunity to learn about the process of a polygraph examination and how it measures unconscious and autonomic systems today.

Detective Brian Welikson and Patrolman Tom Hendrickson from the Rockland County Sheriff’s Police Division Bureau of Criminal Investigation demonstrated the polygraph to more than 150 students across six sections of AP Psychology classes taught by Scott Silver and Greg Laskow.

“The polygraph demonstration ties into our current lesson within the Development Psychology module, which explores physical and social development as well as theories around morality development,” said Laskow. “The polygraph shows the connection between the unconscious and autonomic systems, which are used by examiners to assess reactions to different questions–and it connects to what we are learning about the developmental of lying in young children.”

“It’s interesting to see how my physical reactions when I moved or switched my breathing showed up on the polygraph,” said Giana D., who volunteered to be tested during class.

Welikson explained how attempts to fool the polygraph were easily detected by the variances in the graphics on the monitor when Giana bit her tongue or changed her breathing speed–popular techniques used to try and fool a polygraph.

MacKayla S., who is interested in studying forensic psychology in college, was excited to be tested. “Seeing the graphic interface of the polygraph shows you how your body reacts to different stimuli, which is so much easier to understand instead of just seeing it on a smart board.”

“All of our AP Psychology students are seniors and most do not know what they want to do when they graduate,” Silver noted. “It’s important to bring in practical demonstrations such as the polygraph, which tie into curriculum and career exploration. There are so many fields this touches–law enforcement, forensics, biology and mathematics. We have been successful with helping students get internships with the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department, Orangetown Police Department and Clarkstown Police Department. It’s all about helping them decide what they want to move on to.”

AP Psychology Girl Taking Polygraph Test