Assessing Deception by Voice Analysis Part I: The CVSA (Corrected Copy)

Harry Hollien, PhD, James D. Harnsberger, PhD


Devices that allegedly can detect lying from “analysis” of aperson’s speech are proliferating. Their presence is creating problems for thecourts, as well as for criminal justice and intelligence agencies. But, canassessments of this type actually provide valid information about deceptivebehaviors even though past research suggests their ability to do so is suspect?As stated, this report will review prior research, provide information about alaboratory experiment, and analyze recent field research. The experiment was alarge, well-controlled, laboratory study of the National Institute of TruthVerification’s (NITV) Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA). It employed speechsamples of individuals who systematically varied normal with intenselydeceptive and stressed speech. To create the latter, they had to hold verystrong views about some issue and were required to make sharply derogatorystatements about them while believing that they would be observed by colleaguesand friends. A double-blind evaluation by two teams – one trained/certified byNITV; the other made up of NITV senior examiners – was conducted. The resultsdemonstrated that the CVSA system operated only at about chance levels. Thisfinding is consistent with those reported by other investigators; it isconfirmed by field research.

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ISSN 1942-7794