The International Society of Voice Stress Analysts


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The Universality of Voice Stress Analysis (VSA)


The question, "Is Voice Stress Analysis a viable, valid truth and deception system throughout the world?, " has been heard from many quarters.  The purpose of this paper is to present for the purpose of further research the hypothesis that:

  "Voice Stress Analysis,  conducted by a trained, competent examiner, fully conversant with the culture and language of the examinee,  using approved, standard test formats, with an instrument capable of processing the analog information into useful interpretive data,   will produce a universal product satisfying the DOCTRINE of  standardized, validated  VSA examinations."

  Initial research into this topic reveals that there are 18 countries having voice stress equipment, as reported to me by the DoD Polygraph Institute.  From other sources, we have knowledge of at least two other nations not on their list, for a total of least  20 nations.  (See Enclosure 1).

  From another source, an individual, who holds a PH D in Polygraph, and who actively researches the validity of voice stress analysis comments on the subject,  as extracted here:


            "The available research would suggest that  language makes no difference, nor should cultural background, to a great extent, as everyone fears the loss of his/her freedom (Flight or Fright?)"


            "Logically, the differences in tone, frequency, rate of speech or the language spoken should have little effect,  and I doubt  any effect, on the recording of stress in the human voice.  If an examination is properly administered the language spoken is a superfluous issue.  I believe problems will exist more often in test administration,  that is creating the proper environment  so that a truthful individual  can demonstrate his/her  status.  I would proffer that it is a little  difficult to have no stress in ones voice after being interrogated at  length by some strong arm cop who insists that he knows the subject is guilty  regardless his/her denials to the contrary. "   


 The latter sentence in the above quote capsulizes neatly one of the major differences between polygraph and voice stress analysis  techniques - the interaction between administrator and subject. 

   The researcher quoted above is intimately involved in day-to-day criminal justice related,  truth and deception examinations as a polygraph examiner, who is also conducting a study under the auspices  of the DoD Polygraph Institute as to the applicability of voice stress analysis to  such activities in his state, where such activity is not now sanctioned.

 Turning to real life application of VSA in other cultures,  I cite the experience of  a recent graduate of an  ISSA approved course who  applies   the total  VSA package, e,g, viable instrument, certified training and application of standardized tests to his truth and deception chores.  The examiner, who is also a trained and experienced Polygrapher is employed by a firm  conducting commercial operations in Columbia, Peru and Bolivia. He acts in a general security role, with additional duties as a truth and deception examiner.  The individual is a native Spanish-language  speaker,  US Army Special Forces, veteran of operational and training tours  in that area  and a qualified VSA examiner.  He examined 62 indigenous  security personnel,  in their native language using standard ISSA formats and techniques and the DIOGENES LANTERN™

 Using this Lap Top Voice Stress Analysis  instrument,  at three locations, accessible only by air, an examination was conducted with those cultural and language choices as dictated by the examinee's own personality and background.  Taken into account was that all Spanish speakers do not represent monolithic  subjects.  The examiner's background, training, experience and language skills accommodated these differences.  There was important  intelligence acquired from these examinations.

  As a further  example, in South Africa  one of our systems is used in examinations conducted in the language of the Zulu tribe, in English and in Afrikaner.   the voice stress examiner   there ,  is   a former military officer,  fluent in all those languages, having  lived in those cultures; thus very comfortable with the  client,   as  they are with him.    This professional, non-intimidating relationship, the physical setting and a  non-invasive instrument  must be included as a  requirement for truth and deception examinations.  i referred your question to some members of the professional group who support the function of voice stress analysis,  the International Society of Stress Analysts, and I condense their responses here:

   "Available research  would suggest that language makes no difference,  nor should cultural background to  a great extent,  as everyone fears the loss of his/her freedom"

  I am also informed by  a  voice stress analysis  researcher  that the Ministry of Public Security (China)  is interested in this topic.  but,   it is not known whether or not that agency is proceeding with any studies on VSA in general or  the impact of culture and language in  particular.

  The Voice Stress Examiner thus establishes a positive, professional relationship,  while constructing his examination, to recognize any language or cultural implications pertaining to the topic.  for example, a Zulu is not asked,  "did you steal, the  gold from the mine?"   rather,  he would be asked, "did you take  the gold from the mine?"    In the mind of the Zulu, the gold is his property being stolen by the European white man. 

  In summary,  the voice stress analyzer instrument  accurately measures changes in the level of an individual's stress as the product of  conversion of  the  physiological "micro-tremor of Lippold,"  from a psychological reaction,  is  recognized as  digitized information,  and portrayed as  graphic patterns  for exploitation by a trained examiner.  The trained examiner's skills and professionalism  are key to the achievement of  a determination of valid  truth or deception conclusion, not merely to achieve a confession or to intimidate a subject to that end.   


 We then can conclude, that the differences in tone, frequency, rate of speech  or the language spoken would have little effect , in fact, any effect on the recording of stress on the voice.  thus, an examination conducted in the language of the subject, by  a competent examiner in the same language,  with deference to cultural influences, will  be as conclusive as in any other language.  An examination  of a Chinese language subject, by a skilled, Chinese linguist, a  VSA  Examiner, will produce satisfactory results  when applied   by the total system. The tool which has most readily propelled  voice stress analysis to the forefront as the investigative tool of choice is the advent of a common, international computer operating system,  available in many languages and, the  through the use of icons and other graphic symbols.  Recently,  a Korean psychiatrist was trained in ISSA approved voice stress analysis examination procedures and doctrine, on the lap-top computer he brought with him to this country.  The computer had all the operating system commands, in Korean and English!  There was not a hitch in the training, with positive results for the Korean and the Russian Psychiatrist who also  attended that same session.

  History is replete with numerous examples of various cultures' devices and techniques in enforcing their cultural values.  Important among them, truth and deception measures and tests and devices.  Whether it be by placing rice  in the mouth in China ( a dry mouth = stress, precludes an individual from speaking), Dunking the witch in the ponds of Salem, Massachusetts, (She lives = witch, dies = a saint),  or the tar on the tail of the donkey ploy,  or Ordeal by Fire and on and on!!  Thus, leaders, with a selected, anointed "examiner" could extract a response interpreted as truthful or not!!

  Can we then say, Truth and Deception,  as determined by Voice Stress Analysis is universal to the extent that the culture and language recognize there are  norms, deviations therefrom,  and reactions thereto?  We think so and advocate:   with a base of ISSA approved programs of training, interview techniques and formats supported by reliable instrumentation be applied within the criteria of the language and culture of the individual examined,  by a qualified examiner.     







·        Added  to DoDPI list by ISSA sources.

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