| James Innes

What is Graphology?

In simple terms, graphology is the study of handwriting and its subsequent use as an evaluation of personality and job performance. It is somewhat controversial due to the fact that, despite numerous positive testimonials pointing to its success, the majority of formal studies have returned negative results with graphology being consistently unable to predict either personality traits or job performance.

The Science

A number of assertions are taken into account when graphologists analyse a sampling of handwriting and these include the following:

  • The ego is always active when writing, although this activity changes in accordance with the level of effort being excerpted by the writer.
  • The central nervous system controls the muscular movements involved in writing, which can be altered further by the principles of dynamical systems within the flexibly assembled coordinative structures in the hand, arm and shoulder.
  • Writing is altered according to transitory and long-term changes in the central nervous system.
  • A person’s handwriting is affected by emotion as well as by biomechanical factors such as muscle stiffness.

Handwriting Characteristics

There a number of different handwriting characteristics which are generally considered to be interpreted in the following ways:


  • A forward slant suggests high emotional expressiveness
  • A backward slant indicates emotional withdrawal
  • Upright letters indicate emotional restraint

Angle of Lines on Unlined Paper

  • Upward slant indicates optimism
  • A downward slant suggests low energy

Stroke Shape

  • Circular handwriting suggests an easy going nature
  • Angular writing indicates aggression and high energy
  • Square handwriting indicates practicality
  • Irregular strokes suggest creativity

The Letter t

  • The position of the horizontal bar of the t on the vertical stem indicates either low self esteem, high self esteem or setting goals higher than can be reasonably achieved if placed low on the stem, high on the stem or above the stem respectively

The Letter y

  • The more ornate and cursive the letter y, the greater the indication of a perverted state of mind

Pressure Applied

  • The heavier the pressure, the more intense the emotions of the writer and the greater the level of stress being experienced

Graphology and Business

Some companies may request a handwriting sample from an applicant so that they can conduct a personality profile to measure the applicants against the ideal psychological profile of employees in the position being applied for. However, it is generally accepted that graphology should support rather than replace more traditional recruitment and selection processes. Graphologists can also provide a business compatibility report measuring how well an employee is suited to working within a particular company, division or unit.

How Valid is Graphology?

Despite its increasingly frequent use as a recruiting tool, recent studies have clearly indicated that graphology is not a good indicator of personality or job performance with some specific examples including:

  • The inability of graphologists to predict scores on the Myers-Briggs test based on handwriting samples
  • The ineffectiveness of graphologists using handwriting analysis as a predictor of performance compared with lay people

One of the most important and influential statements regarding the validity of graphology comes from the British Psychology Society, ranking it alongside astrology, and with both of them given zero validity.

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