What Is Graphology?

Graphology attempts to analyse a person's handwriting in order to provide an insight into their personality. This is distinct from the more forensic form of document analysis that attempts to determine if two pieces of writing came from the same hand, however there are certainly overlaps between the two professions.

The theory behind graphology is that our physical and psychological make-up expresses itself either consciously or unconsciously through our handwriting. It is often pointed out that although we are all taught to write in more or less standardised fashion we go on to have completely different handwriting. Why? The answer must surely involve physical and/or psychological differences which in turn will be reflected in our personalities. Thus it seems reasonable to assume that there might be a link between handwriting and personality. The difficulty is in learning to reliably determine the latter from the former.

Graphology is not simply a matter of listing handwriting traits found in a sample text or signature and looking them up in a book. It's far more complex and takes years to learn how to analyse handwriting at an expert level (although there are many articles you can read as well as courses and books you can buy and study to assist in this learning process). The job of the graphologist involves taking many different - often contradictory - indicators and synthesising them into a whole personality reading.

Does Graphology Work?

As with many of the fields discussed on this site there is much skepticism about graphology. Some label it as a pseudoscience akin to sympathetic magic that produces results no better than chance. Others consider that any results it achieves are simply the result of "eyes shut" unrealised cold reading.

Despite all that, there are still many convinced that it works. There are companies who employ graphological consultants to analyse the handwriting of job applicants and graphology has also been used in situations as diverse as marriage guidance and jury screening.

Many who are skeptical of graphology as a whole still accept that to a limited degree it might have some validity. For example, it's very common for large handwriting to be associated with a large, outgoing personality. However it can also be the sign of someone attempting to compensate for an insecure nature. There is also the issue that the form of the handwriting can vary depending on the content of what is being written. This is where expert synthesis of many different indicators is required as opposed to a simplistic checklist approach to the subject.

Personally I'm convinced that there are at least some limited correlations between handwriting and personality. The real question is whether or not there are sufficient reliable signals for the expert graphologist to interpret correctly. At the moment that remains an open question.