The peak-of-tension test is similar in format to concealed information tests, but is distinct because questions are asked in an easily recognized order (e.g., “Was the amount of stolen money $1,000? $2,000? $3,000?” etc.). A guilty examinee is expected to show a pattern of responsiveness that increases as the correct alternative approaches in the question sequence and decreases when it has passed. Stimulation tests often have this format. In a known-solution peak-of-tension test, the examiner knows which alternative is the one truly connected to the incident and evaluates the examinee’s pattern of responses for evidence of involvement in the incident. It is also possible to use the peak-of-tension test in a searching mode when the examiner does not know which answer is connected to the event but wants to use the test for help in an investigation. It is assumed that the pattern of a guilty person’s autonomic responses will reveal the correct answer.


Backster, C. 1963 The Backster chart reliability rating method. Law and Order 1:63-64.

Krapohl, D.J., and S.H. Sturm 2001 Terminology Reference for the Science of Psychophysiological Detection of Deception, updated from 1997 book by the American Polygraph Association.

Nakayama, M. 2002 Practical use of the concealed information test for criminal investigation in Japan. Pp. 49-86 in M. Kleiner, ed. Handbook of Polygraph Testing. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Raskin, D.C., and C.R. Honts 2002 The comparison question test. Pp. 1-47 in Handbook of Polygraph Testing, M. Kleiner, ed. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Reid, J.E., and F.E. Inbau 1977 Pp. 13-71 in Truth and Deception: The Polygraph (“Lie-Detector”) Technique. 2nd ed. Baltimore, MD: The Williams & Wilkins Company.

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