Handwriting & Graphology

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Anonymous

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#1
OK, not the most interesting of subjects but just thought i'd share something i noticed recently and wondered if any of you knew why it occured.

i noticed from letters, birthday cards, etc. that my handwriting is very similar to both my mum and dads. it looks like a cross of the two. is there any reason for this or is it just coincidance?
 

Bilderberger

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#2
In its own little way I think that is quite interesting - as it opens up the whole nature vs nurture debate. It also brings the veracity of graphology into the debate.

I guess there are two extremes:

1. The graphologist/geneticist reply - handwriting is an extension of our personality. Our personality is dictated to us by our genes. Our genes are provided from our parents. Consequently, our personality will be a mix of our parents' handwriting and therefore your handwriting will be a combination of the two.

2. Rational/Environmentalist - handwriting is a function purely of our teaching. Most people's handwriting style is dictated by the teachers/school where they learnt to write. If you were primarily taught to write by your parents it would therefore make sense if your handwriting resembles theirs.

Personally, I would back the second version:

1. Graphology has been totally debunked as a method of personality profiling. I recall experiments showing that the average person could tell as much about an individual from their handwriting as a supposed "expert." There are very very few (stupid) businesses that will still use graphology for candidate assessment.

2. My experience of handwriting is that it goes in waves of style. I have similar handwriting to my brothers and sister. The reason being that we were all taught to write at the same school by the same teacher. I also have not disimilar handwriting to many of my old primary school mates. When moving to secondary school, a number of primary schools feed in. I can recall noticing unique styles being shared by children from the same primary schools. Lastly, due to the fact that my parents were relatively old when I was born - my handwriting in no way resembles theirs. Being from different generations, and hence educational styles, has led to us having totally different styles of writing.
 
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Anonymous

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#3
thanks builderger, that would explain alot (since my mum and dad helped me learn to read and write to a good standard before going to school). so it's just a case of me aping their handwriting.
 
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Anonymous

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#4
Is there a differnce in handwriting between the sexes? Lots of women I know have that 'bubbly', curvy handwriting, the men have cramped, small handwriting. Is this because girls are naturally neater and pay more attention to detail?? Or are there different parts of the brain at work?

My own handwriting is bizarre, lots if upwards strokes bending forewards over the preceding letter, the curves of the 'g' and 'y' sweeping out in a baroque fashion and then underlining the whole word, but I blame this on being forced out of being a natural left-hander as a child......I also blame my childhood stammer on this.
 

Bilderberger

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#5
Blueswidow said:
Is there a differnce in handwriting between the sexes? Lots of women I know have that 'bubbly', curvy handwriting, the men have cramped, small handwriting. Is this because girls are naturally neater and pay more attention to detail?? Or are there different parts of the brain at work?

My own handwriting is bizarre, lots if upwards strokes bending forewards over the preceding letter, the curves of the 'g' and 'y' sweeping out in a baroque fashion and then underlining the whole word, but I blame this on being forced out of being a natural left-hander as a child......I also blame my childhood stammer on this.
I reckon there is a marked difference. Although have nothing to offer as to why that should be the case. Your suggestions make sense to me - perhaps it is a combination of them all.

................going into graphologist mode.....................

Your hand writing suggests that you have a dominant personality with streaks of submission. You love to lead from the front but sometime hang back. You can be insensitive but underneath it all you are a sucker for a sob story. Interests will include reading, walking, seal culling and gnome fondling. You work in a caring profession but in an atmosphere of the hard headed corporate dogsbody. Life could be better for you but then again perhaps not.
 

Rrose_Selavy

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#6
According to the Graphologists, the two things that you cannot tell from handwriting are age and sex. I picked up a few things from reading graphology books a few years ago. My instinct is that it is a psuedo-science and I am naturally skeptical but it is surprisingly accurate - at least when I do it! I see it as a bit of fun that tends to confirm what you already know but can reveal traits that are not obvious to most. Of course my anecdotal experiece is just that. There may be other factors at work. If there are scientific studies then references would help.

There was talk of it being used for recruitment but it does seem to be used in criminal investigations - or is that another myth?
 

Bilderberger

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#7
The problem graphology has it that those who are trained in it are no better than those with no training. Tests have shown this - we can all make certain intuitive assumptions abut a person based on their hand-writing. I believe experiements show that people can get get 65% of simple yes/no facts about a person correct from handwriting. Unfortunately, grapholigists only achieve the same level of success (and some, I beleive couldn't manage 50%).

As for age and sex - I would confidently say that I could achieve quite a lot of success at predicting the sex and rough age of someone from hand-writing.

This is just from observations of different aged people's writing. Think about - we could all tell the writing of someone over 60 - they have different G's, R's and other letters. (Also, you could tell someone over 200 years old as they would put that "s" type signe for an "f":D ).

Sex is the same - the majority of girlies do write neater and less cluttered than men. There are exceptions, as with all things, but I think we would instinctively pick these things up.
 

Melf

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#8
Bilderberger said:
(Also, you could tell someone over 200 years old as they would put that "s" type signe for an "f":D ).
dont you mean "f" type sign for a "s"?
sorry to be picky :D
 

Bilderberger

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#9
Back again - references - yes - the stuff I've mentioned above was from a TV documentary. Have googled for references of that but have failed so far.

The main research has been by Psychologist Barry Beyerstein - who puts it all down to "Sympathetic Magic" (e.g. wide spaces between words must mean that the person doesn't like close contact) and the "Barnum Effect" (i.e. like horoscopes - make enough bland comments and we all feel it matches us).

A quick Google on his name and "graphology" will bring up loads of info.

Such as this..........

http://skepdic.com/graphol.html
 

Bilderberger

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#10
melf said:
dont you mean "f" type sign for a "s"?
sorry to be picky :D
No - you are right to be so picky. How else am I going to track down the Comte de Saint-Germain?!?!?!?!?
 

Rrose_Selavy

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#11
Yes, much of it is common sense and seeing the shapes of the letters almost as pictures but I wonder where the Graphologists get their criteria from. It's almost as if there was some great survey sometime somewhere that they are basing their assessment on eg: a letter "g" that looks like a figure eight "8" but with a vertical line connecting the loops is supposed to indicate according to one textbook, if I remember rightly, "a female homosexual" . Now I happen to have known someone who fitted that description and did write their "g" that way.



As for age and sex, you could day that there are certain character traits that may be considered stereotypically male or female , mature or immature but that you would look for these and they would suggest age or sex but according to graphology there is no definitive male or female/old/young indicator. Except certain examples like the one I mentioned above which seems to be an exception!


Of course I am not making any living from it so I am just relaying what I have read but It would be useful if any trained professional Graphologists could defend themselves here. Apparently they train for years so where do they get their criteria from?
 

Melf

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#12
it is easy to fool graphologists anyway.
if you have spent some time practising calligraphy.
and i have also noticed that some people have sigs that are possible to copy for some reason,

(bilder. have you looked behind the settee or under the bed for the comte then? :D )
 

Bilderberger

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#13
Rrose Selavy said:
Apparently they train for years so where do they get their criteria from?
From the same place as the mass of criteria for Astrology? Or tarot card reading?

One place the criteria does not come from is science. And I think this in one of the more disturbing elements of graphology (apart from the fact that people's future careers were dictated to by this unproven practice in the 1980s). It masquerades as a science - part of psychology. Yet it has no more or less claim to be part of science than the two examples above.
 
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Anonymous

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My handwriting used to be blocky and printed, because I wanted it to be very clear, but then I decided that nice, flowing writing looked better, so I changed it.
 

Breakfastologist

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#15
I would dispute Bilderberger's choice Environmentalist argument in favour of the Geneticist one as my handwriting is also very similar to a cross between my parents' writing styles. I learned to write at school and to be honest I don't think I have read enough in handwriting by either parent to have soaked it up very much. Certainly not compared to teachers or friends whose homework I was "borrowing" to augment my own lack of effort. My handwriting changed around the age of 14 from something so messy that it looked like I was set for a career in medicine to the way I write now, which is occasionally legible.

It seems to me that handwriting is a consequence of a lot of factors that could be genetic - including muscle structure and the way the linguistic brain functions. It may even be that there is an inherited aesthetic sensibility that makes certain forms more appealing so that I would choose to write in a way similar to how my parents choose to write.
 

Rrose_Selavy

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#16
The best way is thwart a graphologist is to write in block capitals. although there are some who say they can "read" that as well it certainly limits their options.. provided you don't add any unusual flourishes. On the subject of faking it - Well you could read a few books and use certain characters or formations but that might raise suspicions if the writing doesn't appear to "flow naturally" although that is a matter of judgement.

As I said, a lot is common sense and intuition based on looking between the lines as it were but it's when you get into individual and specific examples of letter formations that you wonder where they got them.

I looked at the link above where they mention that Graphologists often look at content rather than form - When I interpret any writing I totally divorce content . It contradicts the whole process if you do otherwise.
 

Bilderberger

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#17
Breakfast said:
It seems to me that handwriting is a consequence of a lot of factors that could be genetic - including muscle structure and the way the linguistic brain functions. It may even be that there is an inherited aesthetic sensibility that makes certain forms more appealing so that I would choose to write in a way similar to how my parents choose to write.
A perfectly reasonable point of view. As I say - this whole question does raise rather fundamental issues surrounding nature vs. nurture which, personally, I feel is one of the most important current scientific debates.

It is such a grey area that we wander around in a fog trying to find the edges - only to find another patch of fog on the horizon:)

Are you supporting the veracity of graphology with your suggestion that an "aesthetic sensibility.......makes certain forms more appealing."?
 
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Anonymous

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#18
When I was doing A levels it was possible to spot the people who had gone to a particular primary schoool in Bodmin because they all had basically the same handwriting, whether male or female. This seems to be good support for the nurture argument. Then again, it could have been inbreeding.

I'd probably drive them nuts because I have three basic handwriting styles: my superneat one for official stuff, a basic legible one for leaving notes for people etc. and a scrawl for when I'm making notes for myself. Bearing in mind this last includes symbols for common words (eg the) in a personal 'shorthand' would their 'rules' apply?
 

mikelegs

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#19
Blueswidow said:
Is there a differnce in handwriting between the sexes?
To this end I would like say that my roommate in college started a long distance 'correspondence' with a girl in South Carolina. When she sent him a letter he immediately noticed that her handwriting looked uncannily like my own. So much so that I was slightly disturbed when I saw it. Suprised he didn't become suspicious...

If anyone is interested in faking your handwriting, I suggest reading the book 'Zodiac' by Robert Greysmith. They go into a bit of detail about the way they supposed the Zodial killer faked his handwriting samples.
 
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Anonymous

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Someone I know tried graphology in reverse - she changed her handwriting in an attempt to change her personality! She altered the way she wrote the 'tails' on her g's and y's, and became much more, um, popular with men!

Of course this could be explained by her behaving differently as a result of believing that changing her handwriting would make a difference. But the idea is interesting - proactively using graphology rather than passively accepting its interpretations.
 

beakboo1

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#21
I have to agree with Breakfast on the nature/nurture issue. I have two styles of handwriting, depending on mood and context, one is like my mother's, the other is similar to my two sister's writing, which are virtually identical, despite them having very different personalities. In fact nearly all my neices have the same writing too. We all went to different schools, and were quite seperate in age as well.
Another weird thing I've noticed is that Hubcap's writing, and the writing of my two long standing ex's are very similar indeed. Spookily so in one case.
 

escargot

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#22
My handwriting is famously bad. If I write a note to someone (milkman etc) it's clear because I make an effort, but if I have to write quickly it's illegible.

That's why I use a laptop in lectures and PCs at home- I can't otherwise communicate through writing.

I've tried all ways to improve it, having suffered constant abuse and derision from teachers as a kid!

My younger bro has the same problem and was told, 'Some people are just not made for neat handwriting. Don't worry about it- just do your best.'

Can anyone tell which kid went to a traditional times-tables-and-plimsoll-across-the-arse school and which to a trendy 60s progressive institution?
:rolleyes:
 
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Anonymous

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escargot said:
Can anyone tell which kid went to a traditional times-tables-and-plimsoll-across-the-arse school and which to a trendy 60s progressive institution?
:rolleyes:
Usually, I'd say the one with the job went to the former, but this is a trick question, isn't it?
 

Rrose_Selavy

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#24
Not really but sometimes people who had a certain way of writing - such as being forced to use their right hand when they are left handed - drummed into them when very young or learn english as a second language may use what is called "copybook" style. Keeping to the forms originally learnt with hardly any deviation. Also it it said that people with a learning difficulty may use this style
 

OneWingedBird

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#25
Out of curiosity, are people studying Computer Science still taught to cross their zero's?

I picked this habit up at school in the 80's, all of the early computers used a crossed zero because it was the only way to distinguish it from the letter O when all of the characters were 8x8 pixels.

Then I dropped it sometime in the 90's because every so often it would confuse someone and they'd start trying to tell me I'd written a 6 or a 8 by mistake.
 

Rrose_Selavy

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#26
When I worked in a job which involved reporting medical tests , I started to use the Greek 7 with a horizontal line through it to distinguish if from a "one". Very important where accurate quantities of results can be crucial. I still use that form without thinking.
 

Spookyangel

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#27
My signature is very much like my mums. I can forge it quite easily. lol
My handwriting has been described as very teacher like. Not sure if that's a good thing or not.
I do have a copy of my handwriting scanned which I may post if ppl promise not to read anything awful into it. lol :p
 

Ermintruder

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#28
Despite the oft-reported imminent demise of handwriting, it appears to still be alive (but inarguably on the wane, aside from signatures for the purposes of identification and authorisation).

I think we'd all agree that there is some polygraphical bio-imprinting going on, when we scratch that plume across a parchment. Hurried or distressed people appear to produce characteristically-identifiable modifications in their handwriting, in a fundamental linkage that is as hard to mask as higher-pitched vocal tone when lying etc

So this is not some discountable bunkum, in the same stable as phrenology etc : but for me, the intriguing unanswered question is- to what extent is it a reliable indicator, and for what?

Psychopaths, despots, surgeons, sculptors: how well can these archetypes be identified, via a blind test?

We all know that recognition of friends/family/colleagues' handwriting is an indisputable capability shared by many (though there are some that seem decidedly-blindsighted and incapable of this bipartite anthropological identification system).

At the risk of being labled a sexist homophobic reductionist swine, I'm going to jump--in and say that I can usually tell a woman's handwriting from a man's. Stereotypical female handwriting, in my opinion, tends (though not always) to be neater, more-consistent and rounded/wider than mens'. Note this is a massive statistictical generalisation: but it's often true.

Womens' handwriting *tends* to slope left (this used to be an urban legend indicator of introversion). I think there is some evidence that some gay males tend to have handwriting that is more pseudo-feminine than hetro males (who can have writing analogous like their lives, which can tend to be unstructured, variable and random).

Hopefully I have now offended everyone (and if not, I shall try again later). Please note: this is JUST my inner thoughts on the topic. No research at all. A recounted extract of internally-held misconception and hyperbole.

But it might be more write than wrong. What think ye?

EDIT
Just remembered- dots above the descender line, to form the letter "i" or "j", that get handwritten *as little circles*. That is such a reliable girlie identifier (in my simplistic summary). I've never seen a guy write like this, unless they were a cartoon artist. Some girls never do this, and it tends to predicate younger rather than older females...but certainly not universally-so
 
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James_H

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#29
Definitely when I was in school, girls had much rounder handwriting than boys (disclaimer: in general).
 

Coal

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#30
According to the reliable Skeptics Dictionary:

However, "in properly controlled, blind studies, where the handwriting samples contain no content that could provide non-graphological information upon which to base a prediction (e.g., a piece copied from a magazine), graphologists do no better than chance at predicting... personality traits...." ["The Use of Graphology as a Tool for Employee Hiring and Evaluation," from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association] And even non-experts are able to correctly identify the gender of a writer about 70% of the time (Furnham, 204).
So it appears gender can be easily distinguished, but beyond that, not much cop. Might be later research worth checking out. I'd suggest having someone write out a story they've just read in their own words and see how they frame it might be more useful.
 
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