Graphology is a pseudoscience that is centered on the study and analysis of handwriting, as it relates to the field of human psychology. However, there is also graphology that is used for diagnostic purposes within the medical field. For example, certain features of handwriting may denote illnesses in the brain or the body’s central nervous system.
Sometimes inaccurately referred to as forensic document examination, graphology (as a pseudoscience) is based on the concept of handwriting and its capacity to reveal innate character traits and/or personality features.
History of Graphology
Graphology has its detractors and critics. This type of practice has been around for many centuries and continues today. However, scientific studies don’t seem to back up the validity of this “soft science”. Many critics, past and present, put graphology in the same category as other pseudoscientific arts of divination, including numerology, Tarot readings and astrology.
A trio of books has been written on the subject of graphology, with the oldest being Juan Huarte de San Juan’s Examen de ingenios para las ciencias. The second oldest is Prospero Aldorisio’s Idengraphicus nuntius, which was published in 1611. This was followed by Camillo Baldi’s Trattato come de una lettera missice si conoscaro Ia natura e qualita delio scittore, which became available in 1622.
Another pioneer of handwriting analysis (graphology) was Abbe Michou, whose findings were publicized in 1830. Over the centuries, graphologists continued to refine the oldest principles of this pseudoscience, despite widespread skepticism from the scientific community.
Purported Properties of Graphology
According to devotees of the pseudoscience, graphology, handwriting analysis has the capacity to reveal character, intellect, emotions, dependability, physical capability, self-understanding and talent in, and/or orientation towards, certain fields of endeavor.
Usually, the process of graphology begins with a person writing something on white paper. The graphologist will examine the handwriting, searching for certain indicators, including slant, size, speed, pressure, capitalization, writing shape, strokes, style, margins and so on. The sample is believed to capture a snapshot of the person’s current state of mind, as well as elements of their basic personality.
Modern Scientific Tests Debunk the Power of Graphology
Current and recent scientific research appears to debunk many myths about the power and accuracy of graphology. According to modern research, the link between character, job performance and specific styles of handwriting are dubious at best. That’s why the amount of people who believe in graphology is on the decline.
Other markers for personality and job performance, such as multiple-choice questions administered by psychologists, seem to offer more benefits than traditional handwriting analysis does.
Graphologists who participated in a study conducted in the late 1980s failed to accurately predict personality test scores, based on their interpretations of handwriting samples. This failure seemed to demonstrate that the art and science of handwriting analysis is fundamentally flawed. While a handful of studies do seem to promote the idea that graphology has merit, most produce the opposite opinion.
Governing Bodies for Graphology
One of the major governing bodies for the study and practice of handwriting analysis is the British Academy of Graphology (BAOG). This governing body was formed in 1985, and it remains one of the most respected academic associations for graphology in the Western world.
The association is affiliated with another key governing body, the French, Deontologique Europeene de Graphologues. Those who study English graphology may seek out Diplomas through the British Academy of Graphology. These diplomas may be used to secure employment in graphology throughout Europe and other, English-speaking nations.
Governing bodies for graphology exist to educate the public and to promote greater understanding of handwriting analysis, among members and laypersons. These governing bodies may publish articles about graphology in peer-reviewed journals and periodicals, or hold workshops, conferences and other get-togethers where handwriting analysis is discussed.
Handwriting analysis does not depend on race, culture or gender. In this sense, the practice of graphology may be considered unbiased and quite objective. In the USA, five thousand companies rely on handwriting analysis in order to foster refined employment procedures and team-building. In Europe, a larger percentage of corporations utilize graphology techniques in order to vet prospective employees and to use new employees to best advantage.
Handwriting analysis is featured at many universities and colleges in European countries, including France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland and Israel.