“Nonsense Rides Piggyback on Sensible Things”: The Past, Present, and Future of Graphology

  • Deborah Ellen Thorpe
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)

Abstract

“Nonsense rides piggyback on sensible things”, declares professional sceptic and questioned-document analyst Joe Nickell concerning graphology. This chapter examines graphology’s enduring allure and reach, despite its controversies, and considers its relationship with other types of handwriting analysis. It first asks: is it possible to metaphorically “dissect” the page of handwritten texts, to scrutinize writing as a “medical paratext” rich in information about the writer’s state of health? It then interrogates the nature of the connection between physical and mental states and handwriting. It demonstrates how academics are going “back to basics” with their enquiries into individual difference and handwriting features, and how digital methodologies are contributing to this. Thus, this chapter is an updated study of graphology, providing a wider understanding of the concept of the paratext by considering the information captured in handwriting in the context of a digital age.

Bibliography

  1. Beech, John R., and Isla C. Mackintosh. 2005. Do Differences in Sex Hormones Affect Handwriting Style? Evidence from Digit Ratio and Sex Role Identity as Determinants of the Sex of Handwriting. Personality and Individual Differences 39 (2): 459–468. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2005.01.024.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ben-Shakhar, Gershon, Maya Bar-Hillel, Yoram Bilu, Edor Ben-Abba, and Anat Flug. 1986. Can Graphology Predict Occupational Success? Two Empirical Studies and Some Methodological Ruminations. Journal of Applied Psychology 71: 645–653. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.71.4.645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berwick, Donald M., and David E. Winickoff. 1996. The truth about doctors’ handwriting: A prospective study. BMJ 313 (7072): 1657–1658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beumont, Pierre. 1971. Small Handwriting in Some Patients with Anorexia Nervosa. The British Journal of Psychiatry 119: 349–351. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.119.550.349-a. Accessed Jan 2016. Accessed 8 Jan 2015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beyerstein, Barry L., and Dale F. Beyerstein. 1992. General Introduction to The Write Stuff: Evaluations of Graphology, the Study of Handwriting Analysis, ed. Barry L. Beyerstein and Dale F. Beyerstein, 13–22. Buffalo: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  6. Bradley, Nigel. 2005a. Codes of Conduct and Graphology. Paper Presented at the 8th British Symposium of Graphology Proceedings, St. Anne’s College, Oxford. http://www.wmin.ac.uk/marketingresearch/graphology/ethicsoxford05eng.htm
  7. ———. 2005b. Users of Graphology. Graphology, the Journal of the British Academy of Graphology 69: 55–57.Google Scholar
  8. British Institute of Graphologists. 2015. What Is Graphology? http://www.britishgraphology.org/about-british-institute-of-graphologists/what-is-graphology/. Accessed 8 Jan 2015.
  9. Caplan, Jane. 2014. Your Hand: Signatures and Writing. Lecture Presented at Gresham College, London, June 23. http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/your-hand-signatures-and-handwriting.
  10. Champa, H. N., and K. R. Ananda Kumar. 2010. Automated Human Behavior Prediction Through Handwriting Analysis. Paper Presented at the 2010 First International Conference on Integrated Intelligent Computing (ICIIC), Bangalore, August 5–6, 2010. doi:https://doi.org/10.1109/ICIIC.2010.29.
  11. Champa, H.N., and K.R. Ananda Kumar. 2011. Rule-Based Approach for Personality Prediction Through Handwriting Analysis. International Journal of Computational Intelligence and Healthcare Informatics 4: 27–29.Google Scholar
  12. Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development. 1998/2001. Graphology: Quick Facts. London: CIPD.Google Scholar
  13. Crumbaugh, James. 1992. Graphoanalytic Clues. In The Write Stuff: Evaluations of Graphology, the Study of Handwriting Analysis, ed. Barry L. Beyerstein and Dale F. Beyerstein, 105–120. Buffalo: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  14. Dazzi, Carla, and Luigi Pedrabissi. 2009. Graphology and Personality: An Empirical Study on Validity of Handwriting Analysis. Psychological Reports 105: 1255–1268. https://doi.org/10.2466/PR0.105.F.1255-1268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Douglas, Ian. 2015. Male and Female Brains Are Utter Tosh—Yet We Still Have Men and Women. The Telegraph, December 2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/male-and-female-brains-are-utter-tosh---yet-we-still-have-men-an/. Accessed 5 June 2017.
  16. Duffy, Jonathan, and Giles Wilson. 2005. Writing Wrongs. BBC News Magazine, February 1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4223445.stm. Accessed 5 June 2017.
  17. Fairhurst, Michael, Meryem Erbilek, and Cheng Li. 2015. Study of Automatic Prediction of Emotion from Handwriting Samples. IET Biometrics 4: 90–97. https://doi.org/10.1049/iet-bmt.2014.0097.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ganz, David. 1999. ‘Mind in Character’: Ancient and Medieval Ideas About the Status of the Autograph as an Expression of Personality. In Of the Making of Books: Medieval Manuscripts, Their Scribes and Readers. Essays Presented to M B. Parkes, ed. P.R. Robinson and Rivkah Zim, 280–299. Aldershot: Scolar.Google Scholar
  19. Gawda, Barbara. 2014. Lack of Evidence for the Assessment of Personality Traits Using Handwriting Analysis. Polish Psychological Bulletin 45: 73–79. https://doi.org/10.2478/ppb-2014-0011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. “General Disclaimer.” 2015. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last Modified December 17, 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:General_disclaimer
  21. Górska, Zuzanna, and Artur Janicki. 2012. Recognition of Extraversion Level Based on Handwriting and Support Vector Machines. Perceptual & Motor Skills 114: 857–869. https://doi.org/10.2466/03.09.28.PMS.114.3.857-869.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. “Graphology.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last Modified May 6, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphology
  23. Greenwood, Chris, and Emine Sinmaz. 2016. Jo Cox’s Killer Warned of ‘Bloody Struggle’ for White Supremacy and Even Signed Off Letters to Pro-apartheid Magazine with ‘Racial Regards.’ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3969826/Jo-Cox-s-killer-warned-bloody-struggle-white-supremacy-signed-letters-pro-apartheid-magazine-racial-regards.html#ixzz4hQGoSmK3. Accessed 5 June 2017.
  24. “How to Read an Article History.” 2015. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last Modified May 23, 2017. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:How_to_read_an_article_history
  25. Khaleeli, Homa. 2015. Prince Charles Letters: What Does a Graphologist Make of Them? The Guardian, March 29. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/shortcuts/2015/mar/29/prince-charles-letters-graphologist. Accessed 5 June 2017.
  26. King, Roy N., and Derek J. Koehler. 2000. Illusory Correlations in Graphological Inference. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 6: 336–348. https://doi.org/10.1037/1076-898X.6.4.336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lockowandt, Oskar. 1992. The Present Status of Research on Handwriting Psychology as a Diagnostic Method. In The Write Stuff. Evaluations of Graphology. The Study of Handwriting Analysis, ed. Barry L. Beyerstein and Dale F. Beyerstein, 55–85. Buffalo: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  28. Lyons, Ronan, Christopher Payne, Michael McCabe, and Colin Fielder. 1998. Legibility of Doctors’ Handwriting: Quantitative Comparative Study. BMJ 317: 863–864. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7162.863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Miguel-Hurtado, Oscar, Richard Guest, Sarah V. Stevenage, and Greg J. Neil. 2014. The Relationship Between Handwritten Signature Production and Personality Traits. Paper Presented at the International Joint Conference on Biometrics, Clearwater, September 29–October 2, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1109/BTAS.2014.6996245.
  30. Murray-Browne, Tim. 2016. Foreign Scripts and Familiar Handwriting. Movement Alphabet, September 12. http://movementalphabet.com/foreign-scripts-and-familiar-handwriting/. Accessed 5 June 2017.
  31. Mutalib, Sofianita, Roslina Ramli, Shuzlina Abdul Rahman, Marina Yusoff, and Azlinah Mohamed. 2008. Towards Emotional Control Recognition Through Handwriting Using Fuzzy Inference. Paper Presented at the International Symposium on Information Technology, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 26–28, 2008. https://doi.org/10.1109/ITSIM.2008.4631735.
  32. Neter, Efrat, and Gershon Ben-Shakhar. 1989. The Predictive Validity of Graphological Inferences: A Meta-Analytic Approach. Personality and Individual Differences 10: 737–745. https://doi.org/10.1016/0191-8869(89)90120-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Newby, Rachel E., Deborah E. Thorpe, Peter A. Kempster, and Jane E. Alty. 2017. A History of Dystonia: Ancient to Modern. Movement Disorders Clinical Practice 4: 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1002/mdc3.12493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nickell, Joe. 1992. A Brief History of Graphology. In The Write Stuff: Evaluations of Graphology, the Study of Handwriting Analysis, ed. Barry L. Beyerstein and Dale F. Beyerstein, 23–29. Buffalo: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  35. Rosenblum, Sara, Batya Engel-Yeger, and Yael Fogel. 2013a. Age-Related Changes in Executive Control and Their Relationships with Activity Performance in Handwriting. Human Movement Science 32: 363–376. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.humov.2013.08.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rosenblum, Sara, Margalit Samuel, Sharon Zlotnik, Ilana Erikh, and Ilana Schlesinger. 2013b. Handwriting as an Objective Tool for Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis. Journal of Neurology 260: 2357–2361. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00415-013-6996-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schiegg, Markus, and Deborah Thorpe. 2016. Historical Analyses of Disordered Handwriting: Perspectives on Early 20th-Century Material from a German Psychiatric Hospital. Written Communication 34: 30–53. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741088316681988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Thompson, Damian. 2015. Charles’s ‘Spider Letters’: The Guardian Falls for the Pseudoscience of Graphology. The Spectator, May 13. https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2015/05/charless-spider-letters-the-guardian-falls-for-the-pseudoscience-of-graphology/. Accessed 5 June 2017.
  39. Thornton, Tamara Plakins. 1998. Handwriting in America: A Cultural History. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Thorpe, Deborah. 2015. ‘I Haue Ben Crised and Besy’: Illness and Resilience in the Fifteenth-Century Stonor Letters. The Mediaeval Journal 5: 85–108. https://doi.org/10.1484/J.TMJ.5.108526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. “User Contributions. For Geeveraune.” 2016. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Geeveraune. Accessed 5 June 2017.
  42. “User:Tronvillain.” 2016. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Last Modified January 20, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Tronvillain.
  43. Whiteside, Stephen P., and Donald R. Lynam. 2001. The Five Factor Model and Impulsivity: Using a Structural Model of Personality to Understand Impulsivity. Personality and Individual Differences 30: 669–689. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0191-8869(00)00064-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Williams, Sarah Rhiannon. 2001. English Vernacular Letters c. 1400–1600: Language, Literacy and Culture. PhD Dissertation, University of York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah Ellen Thorpe
    • 1
  1. 1.Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research InstituteTrinity College DublinDublinIreland

Personalised recommendations