Graphology: Handwriting Analysis

Graphology is the study and analysis of handwriting. Its purpose is to show a relationship between a person's handwriting and his personality. Since no two people have identical scripts, handwriting is a form of individual expression, and graphologists believe it provides insights into personality.

There are two basic approaches to the analysis of handwriting: the intuitive, or holistic, and the analytic, or objective. The intuitive approach dates back to Chinese philosophers of the 11th century and has been followed by amateur and professional students of graphology. It has also been practiced by fortunetellers who claim to have special intuitive gifts. The intuitive approach relies mainly on overall judgments of the qualitative aspects of form and style, which are difficult to measure objectively.

The analytic approach attempts to relate specific elements in handwriting to specific personality traits. The 19th-century Frenchman Abbe Hippolyte Michon, who coined the term "graphology", was one of the first to use this approach. It is followed by many professional graphologists, as well as by scientific investigators. Analytic graphologists are usually concerned with objectively measurable aspects of handwriting, such as the relative sizes of various portions of letters, distances between words and between letters, the positions of i dots, and the degree to which the lines of writing slant upward or downward.

In recent years a considerable amount of research has been done, and new methods of measuring and classifying handwriting have been explored. Most psychologists, however, feel that handwriting analysis has so far failed to provide a reliable method of measuring personality.

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