While Wonder Woman can compel people to tell the truth with her golden lasso, the real world uses a different tool—the lie detector. This machine measures a person’s physiological responses (like heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration) while they answer questions.
It’s based on the theory that liars will have increased arousal during questioning. But is that really true?
William Moulton Marston
At a time when scientific innovations were transforming our lives, a scientist named William Moulton Marston made a dazzling claim: he could tell whether someone was telling the truth by hooking them up to a machine. Watch this fascinating film to discover what really happened when Marston’s promising invention turned dark.
After a brief foray into phrenology, the Harvard-educated Marston discovered that people’s physiological responses changed when they told a lie. He developed the first polygraph, which measured changes in a subject’s breathing and blood pressure while they were asked questions.
Marston claimed that his machine would also reveal a person’s subconscious secrets. In addition to forensic applications, Marston believed that the polygraph could help couples resolve conflicting feelings. When the publisher of Superman, Max Gaines, read about Marston’s work in Family Circle Magazine, he hired Marston as a consultant on his comic books for children. Wonder Woman was the result of this collaboration. Marston was an inventor, psychologist, and writer; all three of these endeavors are rooted in his fascination with people’s inner workings.
Hugo Munsterberg was born in Danzig, now Gdansk, Poland on June 1, 1863. His father, Moritiz, was a wealthy lumber trader. Hugo took a variety of interests as a student at the Academic Gymnasium of Danzig, including art, literature, poetry, foreign languages and music.
He attended a lecture by Wilhelm Wundt in 1882 which reignited his interest in psychology. Munsterberg became Wundt’s research assistant and received his Ph.D in physiological psychology in 1885 at the age of 22.
During the course of his studies, Munsterberg developed a series of tests for examining eyewitness testimony and false confessions. He also investigated how certain types of people, such as those with a need to please others, might make false confessions. Munsterberg’s research led to the creation of forensic psychology. He believed it was the psychologist’s duty to uncover psychological information that could be useful in real-world applications, such as legal cases. He wrote many articles on this subject.Get more info on this Lie Detector Test website.
John A. Larson
Having done moonlighting work for the Berkeley Police Department as a student, physiologist John Larson invented the polygraph—the diverse array of physiological indices used to detect deception—in 1920. His insight was to integrate Marston’s discontinuous systolic blood pressure test with measurements for pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity.
Larson modified an Erlanger sphygmomanometer, recording blood pressure changes on a smoked paper drum using a kymograph. He began to test subjects, reporting results in newspaper articles and gaining the attention of chief August Vollmer, who helped promote his work.
Over the next fifteen years, Larson’s Cardio-Pneumo Psychograph was cited in over 300 criminal cases. But he never successfully got his machine admitted into U.S. courts, which were skeptical of its ability to distinguish lies from truth. American Experience producer Rob Rapley says he came across the story of the lie detector’s rocky path while researching his documentary. “The Lie Detector” premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m. on New Mexico PBS and will stream on the American Experience app.
William Moulton Marston, the inventor of the lie detector and the comic superhero Wonder Woman, was a man of many talents. He studied law, had a PhD in psychology, and was an expert in polygraph machines. Marston was also a writer and activist, writing under the pen name Charles Moulton.
His fascination with psychiatric research led him to develop the Lasso of Truth, a golden rope that could force people to tell the truth. This lasso was similar to a polygraph test, as it relied on the same principles of measuring physiological reactions.
Marston was a progressive feminist and believed that women were better than men, so it’s no surprise that his character Wonder Woman would use her magic lasso to fight injustice. Her strength and power was inspired by Greek and Roman mythology, and she incorporated the four primary DISC personality styles. She also wore bullet-deflecting bracelets, which were likely influenced by the cuffs Marston invented for his wife Elizabeth and Olive Byrne, his second love interest.