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Crime under the influence : the effects of alcohol intoxication during a crime on subsequent physiological detection of deception O'Toole, Dennis Michael


Eighty male undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of five groups in an analogue investigation of crime-intoxication on the physiological detection of deception. Sixty-four of the subjects committed a mock crime and half of these were legally intoxicated during the crime. Sixteen subjects committed no crime and served as innocent controls. Results only partially replicated those of Bradley and Ainsworth (1984). Whereas they found crime-intoxication diminished the effectiveness of both the control question test (CQT) and the guilty knowledge test (GKT), the present study found crime-intoxication diminished the accuracy of the CQT only for certain subjects; those who reported high subjective arousal during the crime. Results showed no alcohol effect on the GKT. In light of their results Bradley and Ainsworth suggested that alcohol may act through emotional or memory processes important to polygraphic examination. In a fully factorial design, the present study investigated the effects of threat during the crime and memory for crime details on polygraph outcome. As well, the effect of alcohol on these "emotion" and memory variables was examined. Memory was found to be an important variable in GKT accuracy but not important to CQT accuracy. Threat, as operationalized for the present investigation, had no effect on either the CQT or the GKT but a component of the threat variable, subjective arousal, was found to affect GKT accuracy but not that of the CQT. Raskin's (1979) two-response model of detection of deception is used to explain the results of this study although the relationship of subjective arousal to polygraph outcome is unclear and requires examination in future studies.

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