When former US President Donald Trump signed a decree in front of the camera, he usually put a huge signature on the document. Anyone who has seen it might think: Typical! This proves that the handwriting reflects the character of a person – from the size of the handwriting one can safely deduce the writer’s self-confidence. But what is really all about graphology, handwriting theory as an expression of personality?
At first, it seems quite plausible that the way we move says something about our current health condition or personality. What applies to posture or gait can also apply to handwriting. However, there are now many empirical studies that have not found any significant correlation between personality traits and writing characteristics. Even severe stress and emotional stress can lead to a blurred typeface, because the people involved are using the pen faster than usual. And if there were different results, they were mostly based on weak statistical effects. To stay with the Trump example: Nearly everyone is supposed to know someone who is very self-confident and doesn’t have a wide streak.
In addition, a lot of false promises are being traded. Many of the statements made by graphologists are questionable – such as the one that a handwriting sample can tell a business owner whether the applicant is pregnant. According to US “experts”, this should be evident from the width of the g-loop in the order letter.
Does handwritten at least reveal the gender of the author? A reliable statement cannot be made about this either. However, there are slightly more women who have regular and elegant handwriting than men. This is probably due to the fact that women have better fine motor skills on average. But these differences in streaks have diminished more and more over the past few decades. In the middle of the last century, calligraphy was still highly valued in school – especially among school girls, who were trimmed with clean handwriting and were more readable than pupils.
Many adults no longer write the way they learned to write in school. Handwriting changes in the course of life. How you signed your driver’s license at the age of 18, for example, often has nothing to do with signing after 20 years, because over time the streak gets shorter and simpler. In the elderly, subtle movement disorders can also occur, which are seen in handwriting, but not in gross motor skills. In addition, older people sometimes still use letters in Sotterlin’s script.
Not only the age, but some diseases also change the writing style. Parkinson’s patients often have a miniature handwriting called micrography. When antipsychotics were first used to treat schizophrenia in the 1950s, when the dose was too high, they caused symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. Psychiatrist Hans-Joachim Haas provided handwriting analysis to determine an appropriate individual dose. Because before the dangerous side effects appeared in other areas or in self-experience, they were already known in their kinesthetic writing skills. There are two other factors that are important: profession and origin. Long school hours, studies, and work where there is a lot of writing leads to simplified typeface. A medical scribble, which is often illegible, is a case in point. Handwriting often also reveals the country in which the writer went to school. The German “Schulausgangsschrift”, which forms the basis of the lesson, differs in individual features from those in other countries.