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Handwriting analysis and personality assessment: the creative use of analogy, symbolism and metaphor

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2000
<mark>Journal</mark>European Psychologist
Issue number1
Volume5
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)44-51
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

It has been estimated that graphology is used by over 80% of European companies as part of their personnel recruitment process. And yet, after over three decades of research into the validity of graphology as a means of assessing personality, we are left with a legacy of equivocal results. For every experiment that has provided evidence to show that graphologists are able to identify personality traits from features of handwriting, there are just as many to show that, under rigorously controlled conditions, graphologists perform no better than chance expectations. In light of this confusion, this paper takes a different approach to the subject by focusing on the rationale and modus operandi of graphology. When we take a closer look at the academic literature, we note that there is no discussion of the actual rules by which graphologists make their assessments of personality from handwriting samples. Examination of these rules reveals a practice founded upon analogy, symbolism, and metaphor in the absence of empirical studies that have established the associations between particular features of handwriting and personality traits proposed by graphologists. These rules guide both popular graphology and that practiced by professional graphologists in personnel selection.