Will a Lie Detector Test Lisa Vanderpump Took on ‘RHOBH’ Prove Her Innocence?

Lisa Vanderpump from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills joked about having to take a lie detector test to prove her innocence.

Even though it seemed like she was making a casual remark, she did something that surprised viewers. She actually took a lie detector test. About 24 hours after her meeting with Camille Grammer, cameras followed Vanderpump to a downtown location where she took the same lie detector test that would be administered in a criminal case.

Lisa Vanderpump |Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appétit

“If she’s lying I’m going to catch it in a second,” the polygraph administer explained. Meanwhile, Vanderpump calmly smiles as Dr. John Sessa, her partner at Vanderpump Dogs looks on. “I’m re-thinking this whole thing,” he laughs.

How accurate are polygraph tests?

The first (and only question viewers hear) is if Vanderpump gave a story to Radar Online. Viewers will have to wait until next week (seriously) to learn what else is asked and if she passes.

But would this test actually provide the truth to whether or not Vanderpump did indeed plant the story? According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the test may not offer a cut and dry conclusion.

For the most part, psychologists believe that there is little basis for the validity of polygraph tests.  Even the U.S. Supreme court typically rejects the introduction of polygraph evidence because they are believed to be unreliable.

Why are they so controversial?

The APA refers to the tests more as a measure of tracking an individual’s anxiety or fear. “The accuracy (i.e., validity) of polygraph testing has long been controversial. An underlying problem is theoretical: There is no evidence that any pattern of physiological reactions is unique to deception. An honest person may be nervous when answering truthfully and a dishonest person may be non-anxious.”

Essentially, the lie detector test uses instruments to measure an individual’s physiological response to a series of questions. “The polygraph, like any other lie detection technique, measures an indirect effect of lying,” Dr. Sophie van der Zee, forensic psychology expert, told BBC.

“There’s no human equivalent of Pinocchio’s nose,” she added. “But lying can increase stress… and with lie detection techniques you can measure the behavioural and physiological changes that occur when you feel stress.”

Can you beat a lie detector test?

Even though the film Basic Instinct is a work of fiction, it was a good example of how someone could beat a lie detector test. Experts interviewed by BBC agree. “There’s no question that you can beat a polygraph test but you really need the training to do it,” Prof Don Grubin told BBC, who has trained polygraph examiners in the UK.

He asserts while there are a number of websites that instruct users how to beat it, heading into the polygraph test with the goal of beating it may not produce the result you hope to achieve. Instead, if you want to beat it, you should practice your responses.

Lisa Vanderpump and Kyle Richards
Kyle Richards, Lisa Vanderpump |Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Bottom line, “It does not measure deception, which is the core problem,” says Prof Aldert Vrij, an expert on the subject. “The idea is that liars will show increased arousal when answering the key questions, whereas truth tellers will not.”

Will this ultimately help Vanderpump?

If the women already think Vanderpump is like famed chess champion Bobby Fischer, being cleared by a lie detector may do nothing to help her prove her innocence with them.

During Watch What Happens Live, host Andy Cohen took an audience poll, which pointed to most people thinking the polygraph would exonerate Vanderpump. But Kyle Richards, who has known Vanderpump for years tweeted, “Are you kidding me ? NOOOOOO Who goes to these lengths? Who wrote the questions ? Who ordered the test ? #liedetectortest !!!!”

Erika Girardi, who was a guest on WWHL agreed with Richards. Girardi adds this is not the way to go about trying to prove her innocence either. But one of Richards’ Twitter followers pointed out, “Why wouldn’t she take a lie detector!? Her supposed friends are calling her a liar and constantly bad mouthing her on national TV. Unlike some of the other ladies, #LVP has numerous successful businesses of course she would want to clear her name to protect her businesses.”

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