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Does Graphology Work?

Updated on September 4, 2011

Graphology is the study of handwriting in order to get information about underlying personality. It is alleged to be a pseudo-science because tests have proven inconclusive.

However, everyone knows that graphology works because they will say,
“Oh graphology won't work with me because my handwriting changes with my mood.”
If that is not an admission that it works, I do not know what is. Not only that but it must be really obvious because everyone has noticed it. And why should handwriting not be an effective form of non-verbal communication? I can tell what mood my wife is in by how loudly she closes doors so a more personal thing like handwriting would obviously be a vehicle for our personalities.

The thing that fascinates me about graphology is that the surface of a piece of paper represents a real space to people when they write. Because our culture writes from left to right, the left represents the past and the right the future. The space above the letters represents the mental/spiritual, the main section represents the expressed mind and the lower section, the baser emotions and feelings. Now the left and right sides as past and future make some kind of sense in the writing process to me because all writing on the left is already written and could easily represent the past whilst the blank space on the right is where you are going to write next. But we start writing at the top of the page and work down so why there should be any up/down meaning at all seems counter-intuitive. It is as if it is saying that because the lines of writing do not interact that you do not see a page but a long strip of paper like a ticker tape machine and that it is only the space that each line inhabits that is important not its placement on the overall page. That would fit with the way that we create text out discrete shapes whose meaning is independent on placement. However, that this space represents the super ego, ego and id seems to stretch it a little far.

Nonetheless, having said all of that, the evidence for its accuracy is compelling. I have used it myself and found the analysis to be particularly probing. The results have been specific and detailed and not some vague generalized fuzziness that you can read anything you want into. That testing has been so inconclusive says more about the psychologists doing the tests than the validity of graphology. Psychology is looked down by other sciences as little more than a pseudo-science itself. It would make sense that to gain credibility in the eyes of the other branches of science that it should distance itself from weirder and wackier things like astrology and graphology. This kind of blind dogma is commonplace in all other branches of sciences so there is no reason to think that psychology is going to be immune.


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