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Graphology | Wikipedia audio article

October 11, 2019


Graphology is the analysis of the physical
characteristics and patterns of handwriting claiming to be able to identify the writer,
indicating the psychological state at the time of writing, or evaluating personality
characteristics. It is generally considered a pseudoscience. The term is sometimes incorrectly used to
refer to forensic document examination, due to the fact that aspects of the latter dealing
with the examination of handwritten documents are occasionally referred to as graphanalysis. Graphology has been controversial for more
than a century. Although supporters point to the anecdotal
evidence of positive testimonials as a reason to use it for personality evaluation, empirical
studies fail to show the validity claimed by its supporters.==Etymology==
The word “graphology” is derived from grapho- (from the Greek γραφή, “writing”) and
logos (from the Greek λόγος, which relates to discussion or theory).==History==
Jean-Charles Gille-Maisani stated in 1991 that Juan Huarte de San Juan’s 1575 Examen
de ingenios para las ciencias was the first book on handwriting analysis. In American graphology, Camillo Baldi’s Trattato
come da una lettera missiva si conoscano la natura e qualita dello scrittore from 1622
is considered to be the first book.Around 1830 Jean-Hippolyte Michon became interested
in handwriting analysis. He published his findings shortly after founding
Société Graphologique in 1871. The most prominent of his disciples was Jules
Crépieux-Jamin who rapidly published a series of books that were soon published in other
languages. Starting from Michon’s integrative approach,
Crépieux-Jamin founded a holistic approach to graphology. Alfred Binet was convinced to conduct research
into graphology from 1893 to 1907. He called it “the science of the future” despite
rejection of his results by graphologists. After World War I, interest in graphology
continued to spread in Europe as well as the United States. In Germany during the 1920s, Ludwig Klages
founded and published his finding in Zeitschrift für Menschenkunde (Journal for the Study
of Mankind). His major contribution to the field can be
found in Handschrift und Charakter.Thea Stein Lewinson and J. Zubin modified Klage’s ideas,
based upon their experience working for the U.S. government, publishing their method in
1942.In 1929 Milton Bunker founded The American Grapho Analysis Society teaching graphoanalysis. This organization and its system split the
American graphology world in two. Students had to choose between graphoanalysis
or holistic graphology. While hard data is lacking, anecdotal evidence
indicates that 10% of the members of International Graphoanalysis Society (IGAS) were expelled
between 1970 and 1980.Regarding a proposed correlation between gender and handwriting
style, a paper by published by James Hartley in 1989 concluded that there was some evidence
in support of this hypothesis.==Professional status==
Although graphology had some support in the scientific community before the mid-twentieth
century, more recent research rejects the validity of graphology as a tool to assess
personality and job performance. Today it is considered to be a pseudoscience. Graphology is primarily used as a recruiting
tool to screen candidates during the evaluation process. Many studies have been conducted to assess
its effectiveness to predict personality and job performance. Recent studies testing the validity of using
handwriting for predicting personality traits and job performance have been consistently
negative.In a 1987 study, graphologists were unable to predict scores on the Eysenck Personality
Questionnaire using writing samples from the same people. In a 1988 study, graphologists were unable
to predict scores on the Myers-Briggs test using writing samples from the same people. A 1982 meta-analysis drawn from over 200 studies
concludes that graphologists were generally unable to predict any kind of personality
trait on any personality test.Measures of job performance appear similarly unrelated
to the handwriting metrics of graphologists. Professional graphologists using handwriting
analysis were just as ineffective as lay people at predicting performance in a 1989 study. A broad literature screen done by King and
Koehler confirmed dozens of studies showing the geometric aspects of graphology (slant,
slope, etc.) are essentially worthless predictors of job performance.Rowan Bayne, a British
psychologist who has written several studies on graphology, summarized his view of the
appeal of graphology: “[i]t’s very seductive because at a very crude level someone who
is neat and well behaved tends to have neat handwriting”, adding that the practice is
“useless… absolutely hopeless”. The British Psychological Society ranks graphology
alongside astrology, giving them both “zero validity”.Graphology was also dismissed as
a pseudo-science by the skeptic James Randi in 1991. In his May 21, 2013 Skeptoid podcast episode
titled “All About Graphology,” scientific skeptic author Brian Dunning reports:In his
book The Write Stuff, Barry Beyerstein summarized the work of Geoffrey Dean, who performed probably
the most extensive literature survey of graphology ever done. Dean did a meta-analysis on some 200 studies:
Dean showed that graphologists have failed unequivocally to demonstrate the validity
or reliability of their art for predicting work performance, aptitudes, or personality. Graphology thus fails according to the standards
a genuine psychological test must pass before it can ethically be released for use on an
unsuspecting public. Dean found that no particular school of graphology
fared better than any other… In fact, no graphologist of any stripe was
able to show reliably better performance than untrained amateurs making guesses from the
same materials. In the vast majority of studies, neither group
exceeded chance expectancy. Dunning concludes:Other divining techniques
like iridology, phrenology, palmistry, and astrology also have differing schools of thought,
require years of training, offer expensive certifications, and fail just as soundly when
put to a scientific controlled test. Handwriting analysis does have its plausible-sounding
separation from those other techniques though, and that’s the whole “handwriting is brainwriting”
idea — traits from the brain will be manifested in the way that it controls the muscles of
the hand. Unfortunately, this is just as unscientific
as the others. No amount of sciencey sounding language can
make up for a technique failing when put to a scientifically controlled test.===Additional specific objections===
The Barnum effect (the tendency to interpret vague statements as specifically meaningful)
and the Dr. Fox effect (the tendency for supposed experts to be validated based on likeability
rather than actual skill) make it difficult to validate methods of personality testing. These phenomena describe the observation that
individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that
supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to
apply to a wide range of people. See, for example, Tallent (1958). Non-individualized graphological reports give
credence to this criticism. Effect Size: Dean’s (1992) primary argument
against the use of graphology is that the effect size is too small. Regardless of the validity of handwriting
analysis, the research results imply that it is not applicable for any specific individual,
but may be applicable to a group. Vagueness: Some important principles of graphology
are vague enough to allow significant room for a graphologist to skew interpretations
to suit a subject or preconceived conclusion. For example, one of the main concepts in the
theory of Ludwig Klages is form-niveau (or form-level): the overall level of originality,
beauty, harmony, style, etc. of a person’s handwriting—a quality that, according to
Klages, can be perceived but not measured. According to this theory, the same sign has
a positive or negative meaning depending on the subject’s overall character and personality
as revealed by the form-niveau. In practice, this can lead the graphologist
to interpret signs positively or negatively depending on whether the subject has high
or low social status.==Approaches==
Max Pulver supports a system called symbolic analysis in which he looks for symbols in
the handwriting.===Systems of handwriting analysis===
Each approach to handwriting analysis has spawned several systems. Integrative graphology focuses on strokes
and their relation to personality. Graphoanalysis was the most influential system
in the United States, between 1929 and 2000. The Sistema de Xandró is another method of
integrative graphology. Holistic graphology is based on form, movement,
and use of space. The psychogram is another method which uses
specific diagrams to analyze handwriting. The Personal Worth Chart is one such method
developed by the Handwriting Consultants of San Diego during the early 1980s. The psychograph is an additional psychogram
method. was developed by Leslie King during the 1970s. The Wittlich Character Diagram, and the Muller-Enskat
Protokol are other psychogram methods. Psychologists Leopold Szondi, Augusto Vels,
and Girolamo Moretti invented their personal schools of graphology.Four academic institutions
offer an accredited degree in handwriting analysis: The University of Urbino, Italy: MA (Graphology)
Instituto Superior Emerson, Buenos Aires, Argentina: BA (Graphology)
Centro de Estudios Superiores (CES), Buenos Aires, Argentina: BA (Graphology)
Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain: MA (Graphology)The majority of material
in the field is oriented toward the Latin writing system. Courses offered in the subject reflect that
bias.==Vocabulary==
Every system of handwriting analysis has its own vocabulary. Even though two or more systems may share
the same words, the meanings of those words may be different. The technical meaning of a word used by a
handwriting analyst, and the common meaning is not congruent. Resentment, for example, in common usage,
means annoyance. In Graphoanalysis, the term indicates a fear
of imposition.==Legal considerations=====
In Hungary===A report by the Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner
for Data Protection and Freedom of Information says that handwriting analysis without informed
consent is a privacy violation.===In the United States=======
Gender and handwriting====There have been a number of studies on gender
and handwriting. Uniformly the research indicates that gender
can be determined at a significant level. The published studies on ethnicity, race,
age, nationality, gender orientation, weight, and their relationship to handwriting have
had mixed results.====Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
====One of the rules of thumb in human resources
is that if an individual who has an ADA-defined disability cannot take a test, then nobody
can. As a result, tests that cannot be adapted
for use by those individuals will not be used by a company. Handwriting clearly falls into the group of
tests that cannot be adapted to be administered to individuals who fall within one or more
ADA-defined disabilities. Blind people, for example, do not develop
the required fluency in handwriting, for the writing to be correctly analyzed. Questions that handwriting analysts ask before
doing an analysis can be illegal under this act.==Applications=====
Employment profiling===A company takes a writing sample provided
by an applicant, and proceeds to do a personality profile, matching the congruency of the applicant
with the ideal psychological profile of employees in the position.A graphological report is
meant to be used in conjunction with other tools, such as comprehensive background checks,
practical demonstration or record of work skills. Graphology supporters state that it can complement
but not replace traditional hiring tools. Research in employment suitability has ranged
from complete failure to guarded success. The most substantial reason for not using
handwriting analysis in the employment process is the absence of evidence of a direct link
between handwriting analysis and various measures of job performance.The use of graphology in
the hiring process has been criticized on ethical grounds and on legal grounds in the
United States.===Psychological analysis===
Graphology has been used clinically by European counselors and psychotherapists. When it is used, it is generally used alongside
other projective personality assessment tools, and not in isolation. It is often used within individual psychotherapy,
marital counseling, or vocational counseling.===Marital compatibility===
In its simplest form only sexual expression and sexual response are examined. At its most complex, every aspect of an individual
is examined for how it affects the other individual(s) within the relationship. The theory is that after knowing and understanding
how each individual in the relationship differs from every other individual in the relationship,
the resulting marriage will be more enduring.===Medical diagnosis===
Medical graphology is probably the most controversial branch of handwriting analysis. Strictly speaking, such research is not graphology
as described throughout this article but an examination of factors pertaining to motor
control. Research studies have been conducted in which
a detailed examination of handwriting factors, particularly timing, fluidity, pressure, and
consistency of size, form, speed, and pressure are considered in the process of evaluating
patients and their response to pharmacological therapeutic agents. The study of these phenomena is a by-product
of researchers investigating motor control processes and the interaction of nervous,
anatomical, and biomechanical systems of the body. The Vanguard Code of Ethical Practice, amongst
others, prohibits medical diagnosis by those not licensed to do diagnosis in the state
in which they practice.===Graphotherapy===
This is the pseudoscience of changing a person’s handwriting with the goal of changing features
of his or her personality, or “handwriting analysis in reverse.” It originated in France during the 1930s,
spreading to the United States in the late 1950s. The purported therapy consists of a series
of exercises which are similar to those taught in basic calligraphy courses, sometimes in
conjunction with music or positive self-talk.==
See also==Psychogram===Graphologists===
Camillo Baldi Ludwig Klages
Max Pulver Robert Saudek
Rafael Schermann Léopold Szondi
Sheila Lowe===Related fields===
Asemic writing Questioned document examination
List of topics characterized as pseudoscience Calligraphy
Palaeography Graphonomics
Doodle

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