Talk:Graphology

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Dr. Fox effect[edit]

Was that supposed to be the Forer effect? ... of liberals? (talk) 21:20, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Mistakes in the article[edit]

This article on graphology is inaccurate and provides some wrong and outdated information. Here are some:

"While it may be supported by anecdotal evidence and testimonials, no scientifically controlled studies have shown it to be effective."

There are some studies which show that graphology is effective. However, there are also some that show it is not. Graphology has offered mixed results. Here is a short list of studies in peer-reviewed journals which have shown it to be effective: (I have many more with me)

Adler, S. (1968). Das Schreibverhalten des Erstklässlers. Masters Dissertation. Zurich University, Zurich, Switzerland.

Angel, E. (1954). Form level judgements on handwriting and their relations to the personality of the judges. MA thesis. New School for Social Research, New York City.

Anthony, D. (1967). Is graphology valid? Psychology Today, 1.

Auzias, M. & Ajuriaguerra, J. (1986). Les fonctions culturelles de l'écriture et les conditions de son développement chez l'enfant. Enfance, 2-3, 145-167

Nevo, B. (1989). Validation of graphology though use of a matching method based on ranking. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 69, 1331-1336.

Oosthuizen, S. (1990). Graphology as predictor of academic achievement. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 71, 715-721

Riggio, R.E., Lippa, R., & Salinas, C. (1990). The display of personality in expressive movement. Journal of Research in Personality, 24, 16-31.

Satow, R., & Rector, J. (1995). Using gestalt graphology to identify entrepreneurial leadership. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 81, 263-270.

Sonnemann, U., & Kerman, J.P. (1962). Handwriting analysis—a valid selection tool. Personnel, 39, 8-14.

Behrendt, J. E. (1984). Alzheimer disease and its effect on handwriting. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 29(1), 87-91.

Belin, C. J. (1979). L’écriture dans l’Anorexie mentale chez la jeune fille. Psychol. Med. (France), 10/11, 2117-2122.

Beschel, G. (1993). Kritzelschriften als Bewegung, Leistung und Ausdruck. Beiträge z. Psych. D. K.- und Jschrift, 33.

Beumont, P. (1971). Small handwriting in some patients with anorexia nervosa . British Journal of Psychiatry, 119, 349-350.

Birron, D. (1985). Graphology – a validation study of the test’s claims (in Hebrew). The 20th Scientific Congress of the Israeli Psychological Organization.

Breil, M. A. (1964). [Graphology in the service of psychiatry] (in German). Bibl. Psychiatr. Neurol., 12, 197-219.

Breil, M. A.(1963). Graphologische Untersuchung von 14 Handschriften von Patienten mit genuiner Epilepsie. Psych. Neurol.,140, 382-405.

Briggs, D. (1980). A study of the influence of handwriting upon grades using examination scripts. Educational Review, 32(2), 185-193.

Christofanelli, P. (1998). La grafologia e in grado di rispondere ai criteri dell’indagine scientifice? pp. 189-200. In : Ceccarelli, G. Psicologia e grafologia : Quale rapporto? Milano: Franco Angeli.

Cohen Bar-Kama, S. (1997). The SWT’s contribution to the understanding of matutation delay, dysgraphy and dysfunction of the Cognitive Motor Control. In: Kucharska, A. and Sturma, J. (eds) The Star-Wave-Test in research and experience. Prague: Educational and Psychological Counseling Institute of the Czech Republic, pp.75-79.


"Claims include making judgments about a person's personality by looking at their handwriting, or even diagnosing disease. One typical claim is that the handwriting of introverts tilts to the left, and that of extroverts tilts to the right. Other claims include that you can detect whether a person is telling the truth by looking for specific indentations in their letters, or whether a person has a romantic interest in you by how large the loops on their "P"s and "R"s are. No scientific studies support any of these claims."

Absolutely correct. No studies support any of these claims. However, these are only the claims made by analysts who have read a book or two about the subject. Such extravagant claims are not made by any trained and knowledgeable graphologist. Rather, they say that graphology being expressive movement (Allport, 1933) expresses the dynamics of personality which can be evaluated by analyzing the movement of the writing, its spatial distribution, form and the stroke. Cronje and Roets (2013) (http://www.hrpub.org/download/20131201/UJP3-19401051.pdf) are one among the few who validated this "holistic" approach. Regarding the i-dots, t-bars, r and p loops, graphologists themselves say "linear relations between individual isolated graphometric indicators and personality/behaviour are unrealistic, since graphology does not operate in a linear pattern".

The Code of Ethics of professional graphological organizations like the British Academy of Graphology and the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation prohibit the diagnosis of diseases by graphologists (except those that are trained health professionals as well).

I think these statements need to be changed. Investimate (talk) 06:52, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

Some of those studies are not supportive of Graphology at all (eg. Oosthuizen in 1990), and many wouldn't fit most definitions of peer-reviewed journal articles. For me the final word on Graphology, at least in an assessment and selection context, was published in 1995. Notice the number of citations for that article, many of those you posted have less than 5 (and often self-references at that). I understand that technically, with a super lax definition of scientific, you might argue the point that there is scientific evidence of graphology's effectiveness (it's just that the evidence is very weak) - one might also say there is plenty of scientific evidence concerning graphology's effectiveness (evidence that it doesn't work). I say leave as is, the statement is close enough to be true without a million qualifiers weakening the point. Tielec01 (talk) 08:39, 4 January 2015 (UTC)
All the studies I have pointed out are those published in non-graphological peer-reviewed journals. I think a good review of experimental research in graphology is: Fluckinger, Tripp, and Weinberg (1961) A REVIEW OF EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH IN GRAPHOLOGY, 1933-1960. Perceptual and Motor Skills: Volume 12, Issue , pp. 67-90. doi: 10.2466/pms.1961.12.1.67 [1] (there are several citations) . There seems to be evidence that it is valid and effective AND evidence that it is not valid. This has been explained as due to "poor research designs" and "significant methodological negligence". In fact, when you look into it, it becomes apparent that graphology has been validated in studies with statistical methods that preserve the individual wholeness of the subject in a psychobiologically dynamic model of development (Magnusson & Torestad, 1993; Murphy, 2011) as mentioned by Victor Clark. In contrast, when clinical and experimental subjects’ individual wholeness is fragmented by psychometric inferences made from rating individual differences against a group mean verification of graphology cannot be validated because of low statistical correlation scores resulting from this classical test theory method of validity verification. These low correlations between graphological judgments against the ranking of personality traits is simply a psychometric error in the inferences made when interpreting this type of data analysis: Statistical inferences at the population level of group analysis cannot logically have explanatory value at the individual level of analysis (Lamiell, 2003). As I mentioned before, "linear relations between individual isolated graphometric indicators and personality/behaviour are unrealistic, since graphology does not operate in a linear pattern." It is the studies which do not follow the dynamic and wholesome model of personality have found graphology to be invalid.

Investimate (talk) 14:15, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

Your language is dense, and I suspect deliberately so, but I will try and make sense of what you are saying.
  1. Firstly the state of the literature has changed since the 60's - many of the concepts talked about in the article you posted are now considered pseudo-scientific. In it's infancy Psychology had a bit of a problem with pseudoscience, which in my opinion have now largely been shaken off. Since the 60's there have been many methodologically rigorous studies that have demonstrated graphology has no solid theoretical underpinnings and doesn't get results.
  2. Secondly, and this is the key, graphology doesn't get results - it doesn't do the things that it says it does. All of your objections to classical test theory or linear relationships between handwriting and personality factors should be reserved for thrashing out the 'how & why' of how graphology works (if it does work). Once graphology can predict something then we can move onto discovering the rules and relationships that govern how it is predictive.
  3. Thirdly, you seem to be intimating that the rules that govern graphology are too complex to be captured by rules or mathematical formula. I hear similar objections when talking about predicting criteria from personality tests - ie, it's not discrete scores that matter it's the constellation of scores. It's as if there is some kind of art form practiced by gurus that gets results and that this art isn't amenable to scientific inquiry (or the tools that science employs aren't yet up to the task). The short and blunt answer is that, even if this is true for graphology, it's not science. Science needs predictive, repeatable relationships, and they don't need to be 'linear' but they do need to be computable. If that isn't true, then it isn't science.
  4. Lastly, most of this conversations is beside the point. We could say "some methodologically weak studies have found limited support for graphology but the vast majority of well conducted scientific studies find graphology can provide the results it says it can". Or we can shorten to, "there is no scientific evidence that graphology works". I prefer the latter because it is simple and true. Tielec01 (talk) 04:26, 5 January 2015 (UTC)


I apologize for my language. I will hereafter try to make it more understandable.
1."Firstly the state of the literature has changed since the 60's - many of the concepts talked about in the article you posted are now considered pseudo-scientific. In it's infancy Psychology had a bit of a problem with pseudoscience, which in my opinion have now largely been shaken off. Since the 60's there have been many methodologically rigorous studies that have demonstrated graphology has no solid theoretical underpinnings and doesn't get results."
In the previous post, I was talking about how these methodically rigorous studies make a mistake in procedure when trying to test an expressive movement which expresses the dynamics of personality.
2."Secondly, and this is the key, graphology doesn't get results ......should be reserved for thrashing out the 'how & why' of how graphology works (if it does work)..."
Here is why graphology works- Gordon Allport, the Harvard psychologist, studied "expressive movement/behavior" (preconscious behavior which reflects our inner self) in depth. In his work Studies in Expressive Movement (1933), he investigated the nature of expressive movement and their inter-consistency. Interestingly, he classified handwriting too as an expressive movement (along with body language, facial expressions etc.). In fact, he devoted a whole part of his book to handwriting and said that handwriting is an "intricate, yet accessible prism which reflects many, if not all the inner consistencies of personality". This is the reason why handwriting reveals personality, since it is expressive movement. Allport's findings have been confirmed by several others (eg: Riggio, R.E., Lippa, R., & Salinas, C. (1990). The display of personality in expressive movement. Journal of Research in Personality, 24, 16-31).
3."Thirdly, you seem to be intimating that the rules that govern graphology are too complex to be captured by rules or mathematical formula. I hear similar objections when talking about predicting criteria from personality tests - ie, it's not discrete scores that matter it's the constellation of scores. It's as if there is some kind of art form practiced by gurus that gets results and that this art isn't amenable to scientific inquiry (or the tools that science employs aren't yet up to the task). The short and blunt answer is that, even if this is true for graphology, it's not science. Science needs predictive, repeatable relationships, and they don't need to be 'linear' but they do need to be computable. If that isn't true, then it isn't science."
You are now adopting a positivistic (human nature is assumed to be simple and deterministic in a stimulus-response fashion) view. Personality is very complex, which is why graphology is also complex. A graphic variable takes a meaning only in context of the whole and in relation to the other variables present in the writing. This is very much like medicine. A cough doesn't necessarily mean that a person has a viral infection. Depending on the other symptoms, the physician diagnoses an illness. The skill of the physician is an art. Similarly, the skill of the graphologist too is an art. However, the subject itself - medicine/graphology is a science.

Investimate (talk) 14:08, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

If graphology reliably and consistently works - why is it no longer allowed as evidence in legal cases?--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 14:43, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
Good question. However, your statement is true in the US. In France, Forensic Graphology experts are recognized by the Ministry of Justice, and they obtain their certification by oath in official ceremonies organized by the ministry.[2] In Italy, Graphology is recognized by the Ministry of Education. In 1996, the governmental “Office for Universitarian, Scientific and Technological Research” acknowledged graphology studies in universities within the faculties of sociology, psychology, law, and other professional courses. In Argentina, in 1995 Professor Julio Cavalli presented to the General Directorate of Education of Buenos Aires a project to recognize graphology as an autonomous discipline with its first academic program. This was approved in 1996, Argentina had the first official training programme in graphology, and consequently it is a recognized profession. Now many institutes offer training, for example: Centro de Estudios Superiores, Emerson, ICEA, CEBA, etc. Graphology is well respected among psychologists in Germany, Switzerland etc. An accredited degree in Graphology is offered by a few universities in Europe. However, in US, this is not the case. Graphology is highly controversial as there was nothing to prevent two-book "handwriting analysts" from calling themselves as professional graphologists and destroying its reputation. Investimate (talk) 15:26, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
So it's not because they found there was no evidence that it worked?--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 16:05, 5 January 2015 (UTC)


There is evidence that graphology does not work - I admit that. But there is also evidence (unknown to many) that graphology does work. There are some fundamental errors in most of the studies which have found graphology to be invalid (see my first post). Also, in some studies I came across, the graphologists used were those who were self-proclaimed as professional graphologists. In the US, on August 18, 1980, graphology was removed on from "occult" to "psychology, document examination and personnel screening"” in the Library of Congress. Investimate (talk) 16:15, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
But if there was good evidence that it worked it would be used by the US court system. But they have decided - to put it polity - that evidence for the utility of the process is lacking. I also note that the majority of your sources come from the last centenary - your comments might be more persuasive if they all came from the current millennium.--Coffee (talk) 17:42, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
Here are some cases in which US courts have accepted the testimony of graphologists (US is the country in question - graphology is accepted in France and many other European countries). Precedents have been set in at least 10 states.
1) 1981 Circuit Court, Cook County, Chicago, Illinois. Docket No 77 1 25427. Client: Robert & Gail Glueckert. Client Attorney: Robert Kiesler, 1988 West Randolph, Chicago, Illinois. Judge: Judge Englestein. Graphologist: Father Anthony J. Becker, Ph.D., 303 North 4th Street, Oregon, Illinois. In a counter suit evolving from the original suit of Urlacker vs Glueckert, the Glueckerts filed a wrongful death suit against Thomas Urlacker. Urlacker admitted in an 11 page letter to a friend that he 'put that girl in the ground'. The 'girl' was the Glueckerts' missing 14-year old daughter. Because the body has never been found, murder charges have not been filed. The psychologist/ graphologist provided the principle testimony from the 11-page letter that Urlacker was a mentally unstable sociopath. The jury awarded the Glueckerts five million dollars in damages.
2) 1985 Case No. 495064, Superior Court, San Diego, California. Graphologist, Paula Sassi, Handwriting Consultants International, testified to the mental and emotional state of a woman at the time she wrote a codicil to her will and that the contents of the codicil were dictated to her.
3) 1985 Case No. VCR-3033, Superior Court, San Bernardino County, Victorville, California. Client Attorney and Public Defender: Kathleen McCalom, 14707 Seventh Street, Suite 100, Victorville, California 92392. 1-619-245-0174. Judge Donald R. Egan. Plea Bargain Trial. Graphologist: Jennifer Triaget, C.G., D.E., Handwriting, Inc., P.O. Box 3783, Westlake Village, California 91359. 1-800-889-6799. Graphologist testified the mental, emotional and social state of the defendant had improved measurably during the period of confinement during which time Maxwell participated in Legibility Training. Graphologist testimony supported the contention that Maxwell was above average intelligence and extreme vulnerability contributed to lack of common sense. Maximum penalty was three years. Judge ruled thirteen months.
4) 1984 Case No. 83-939-Cr-HWK, United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, Miami, Florida; United States vs Thomas Kloszewski. Client: Mr. G. David O'Leary, 2260 Southwest 8th Street, Suite 201, Miami, Florida 33135. 1-305-642-3473. Graphologist, Roxanne Perri Lux, Perri and Associates, Inc., 1926 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 319, Hollywood, Florida 33020. 1-305-921-1636. Graphologist testified on mental state of client at the time of signing a written statement indicating extreme stress possibly caused by reaction to duress imposed at Drug Enforcement Agency interview room shortly after arrest.
"I also note that the majority of your sources come from the last centenary - your comments might be more persuasive if they all came from the current millennium."
The studies are still valid! Besides, there are several studies from the present century. Here are some:
1) Galeazzi, G. (2002). Scientificità e grafismo – Saggi di epistemologia. Urbino: Libreria Moretti Editrice.
2) Bosom, M. (2004). Desarrollo y estudios de validación de un nuevo instrumento para selección de directivos, basado en la grafologia (development and validation studies of a new managers’ selection instrument, based on graphology). Ph.D. Thesis, Universitat de Barcelona, Department of Social Psychology, Barcelona, Spain.
3) Elefant, U. C. (2002). Untersuchungen zu schriftpsychologischen Erkenntnisse über Patientinnen mit Anorexie nervosa oder Bulimia nervosa. Dr. Med. dissertation, Medizinische Fakultät, Leipzig University.
Also, most of the supposedly "invalidating" studies too come from the 20th century.


A quick response.
  1. What on earth is a logical positivist view on personality? Perhaps you meant reductionist? Sure whatever, I personally don't think personality is very complicated (5-6 major factors) with some fairly predictable outcomes and interactions (I do have a soft spot for logical positivism).
  2. If it can't be measured it's not science. When effects disappear every time an experiment is double-blinded, or properly controlled there can only be one conclusion. It's an inescapable fact that graphology was and is a fruitless avenue of research, such that no reputable researcher looks into it anymore. By all means, whack on a lab coat and conduct the research yourself - perform your own analyses that takes into account whatever interactions between dotted 'i's and crossed 't's you imagine is the case (SPSS will be able to handle even the most complicated ones through a MANOVA I think). Then get it published in a peer reviewed journal. In all honesty, if you actually did this you would probably make it into Science or Nature and become the toast of the town. Tielec01 (talk) 02:18, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

Legitimate usage[edit]

Given that uncomfortably much real-world forensics has recently been brought into question as not adhering strictly to well demonstrated scientific evidence, I'd like to take a quick pass at whether we have any scientific sources backing up graphanalysis. What are they? Who publishes research? My naive, internet-based attempts to locate research journals just leads me past page after page after page of analyzing actual graphs with AIs mixed with graphology weirdos publishing in pseudojournals. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 19:56, 9 August 2018 (UTC)

Follow up, after a particularly helpful article by the FBI containing citations, I've alleviated my concerns more than a little. There seems to be a lot of rigorous, empirical, and statistically bound studies of particular kinds of handwriting variance and detection in the journal of forensic science. Probably I should take the FBI article as a good secondary source to cite in the legitimate section to make it more credible to future readers. Thoughts? ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 21:45, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
Seems good, interesting, and informative. You should put it in the article if you can. --It's-a me, Lgm sigpic.png LeftyGreenMario! 22:50, 13 August 2018 (UTC)