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Detecting Honest People’s Lies in Handwriting

The Power of the Ten Commandments and Internalized Ethical Values

Abstract

Can managers detect honest people’s lies in a handwritten message? In this article, I will briefly discuss graphology and a basic model of interpersonal communication. I will then develop a fundamental theoretical framework of eight principles for detecting lies based on the basic communication model, handwriting analyses, and the following assumptions: For most people, it is easier to tell the truth than to tell lies. This applies to handwritings also. When most honest people lie, they try to hide their stressful emotions in the encoding process. As a consequence, they deviate from their own normal writing and violate their own personal moral standards. Interestingly enough, the art or science of detecting a lie in a handwritten sample is to focus not on what they write, but on how they write it. These 24 exhibits (cases) written in 11 languages—used in different parts of the world—help managers apply this important theoretical framework of interpersonal communication, understand the encoding process, pinpoint these sudden emotional changes, decode handwritten messages, unlock the secrets, reveal the message’s true meanings, and detect people’s lies.

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Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank Editor-in-Chief Alex C. Michalos for his suggestions and encouragement, Dan Ariely and Kenneth Tillery for their inspiration, comments, and support, and colleagues and students for their participation in this project.

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Correspondence to Thomas Li-Ping Tang.

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Tang, T.LP. Detecting Honest People’s Lies in Handwriting. J Bus Ethics 106, 389–400 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-011-1015-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-011-1015-6

Keywords

  • Graphology
  • Handwriting analysis
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Language
  • Culture
  • Detecting lies
  • Cases