Handwriting has been the subject of various studies for the past four hundred years. In 1622 Camillo Baldi published a book entitled, ‘ Treated how, by a letter missive, one recognises the wrfiters nature and qualities’. He is considered to be the first person to carry out and record logical observattions regarding the nature of handwriting. Almost two hundred and seventy five years later the term ‘ graphology came into being. In paris in 1897 Abb Jean-Hippolyte Michon coined the phrase by amalgamating the Greek words ‘graphien’ (to write) and ‘logos’ (science). P3
Kedar, S. Et al 2015 writes that graphology is considered by many as “a scientific method of evaluating, and also understanding a persons personality by identifying the strokes and patterns revealed by his handwriting,” it is believed that a persons handwriting comes from the brain and not actually the hand itself. Whaen a nuerological brain pattern produces a neuromuscular movement, it is linked to a personality trait and whilst you write these movements occur unconsciously. Handwriting can give a glimpse aspects such as a persons motivations, intellect level, aptitude and integrity.
An infinite number of combinations of the possible one hundred traits can be used to come to an understanding of a persons personality. Due to the everchanging mental state of an individual a test carried out twenty years ago may not yield the same results if the same test was to be repeated today with no varying factors.the analysis of handwriting is believed to have astronomical potential, with some saying that if an automated system were to be developed it could potentially assist in the identification of illnesses such as Parkinsons disease and even cancer. (Kedar and al., 2015)
FOUNDATIONS OF HANDWRITING
Handwriting and hand printing evidence is the most common and most challenging of all the examinations that document examiners are called upon to perform. In these modern times computer printing is replacing handwriting however, there are still many types of documents that are hand written or require a handwritten signature to be contained within. These must be compared in cases of fraud and forgery. The basis for handwriting analysis is that each persons handwriting contains a number of unique, reproducible characteristics that are individual to that person. There are currently no standards for the quantity of handwriting that must be gathered to make a comparison between two documents. There is also no standard regarding the number of unique features that must be found in the known and unknown documents being compared. (Siegal J.A, Mirakovits K, Forensic Science the basics, 2016)
Over the past century the methods used in schools to teach children to write have not changed significantly. Either the Palmer method or the Zaner-Bloser method are generally used in most schools to teach children from a young age how to form letters and words. Both methods use a set of printing and writing fonts. The Palmer method involves placing the capital and lowercase letters on a large lined piece of paper mounted atop the blackboard in front of the room. Every student then spends several hours a day learning how to form the letters and eventually making them into words. Once the student has achieved an acceptable level of penmanship and dexterity, enabling others to read their work, the emphasis then shifts towards the content of what is being written rather than how the letters are formed and how they look. It is at this stage that the student begins to pay less attention and take less care regarding the appearance of the handwriting and the writing process becomes internalised and automatic. Each person develops unique embellishments and flourishes in their handwriting making it their own. These unique quirks become ingrained in the individual and become such a habit that people fail to think about how their writing looks. They become less concerned about the characteristics that make up their handwriting. This makes it more difficult for someone to deliberately disguise their handwriting because they are not aware of its distinctions and traits.
Even though handwriting becomes internalised with time it is not like fingerprints which remain unchanging throughout time. Age is one factor that may affect handwriting. This can be due to changing personal preferences. There may also be a change in dexterity due to advancing age or disease. Handwriting may also change, although less distinctly, as the purpose of the writing changes. Depending upon the circumstances a persons signature may be extremely neat or almost illegible. An important document is generally written slowly and with care compared to notes scribbled in a chemistry lecture. Despite these conditional changes a persons handwriting preserves its essential unique features regardless of the circumstances surrounding the writing. Other factors can also affect handwriting on a short or long term basis. One of the most profound influences is health. Disease can cause temporary or permanent weakness of the muscles that control writing. Sometimes changes happen gradually over time and sometimes they may be quite abrupt such as the case of a hand injury or arthritis. Tremors caused by advanced age or disease like Parkinsons may cause major changes in handwriting. Alcohol and drugs may cause temporary changes in writing. If a person suffers from chronic alcoholism or drug abuse, these changes may become permanent.
Handwriting comparisons depend on two major factors; the presence of sufficient unique characteristics in the questioned document of writing and the proper collection of examples, which are the samples of writing from the suspected author. Handwriting has a natural variation and some of the characteristics of a persons handwriting depend upon the writing instrument, paper, physical condition, and mental condition of the author at the time the document was written. Therefore, the general rule of handwriting samples is that the samples should be as similar in all controllable aspects as the unknown. If the unknown is printed rather than cursive, then the known must also be printed. If the writing instrument used in the questioned document is a pencil, then the samples must also be collected in pencil. Due to the fact that handwriting changes with time, known and unknown samples must be of approximately the same age. (Nordby J.J, Stuart S.H, Forensic Science An Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques, 2005)
Several factors must be taken into account when gathering samples for analysis:
• Unless it is known for certain that that the questioned document was made when the writer was in an uncomfortable position, the writer should be made as comfortable as possible. The chair, table and lighting should be optimal
• The same type and colour of writing instrument should be used. For example, if a blue Bic pen was used then a blue Bic pen should be supplied to the writer to recreate the sample.
• The same type of paper should be used (either lined or unlined).
• Sufficient samples should be taken. Long passages of handwriting
Features of Graphology
A handwriting sample may be obtained to measure the meaningful individual characterisations of a persons writing style. Several different samples may be used to measure these characteristics or features, such as, an entire document, a simple paragraph, a singular word or even a singular character. (Srihari and al., 2002) once the handwriting sample has been obtained a graphologist will examine the sample and look for the following key features:
Line quality: This is the thickness, strength, and flow of the letters. Some factors are if the letters are flowing, shaky, or very thick.
Letter spacing: This is the amount of space put between letters. The letters could all be connected or spaced drastically.
Height, width, and size of the Letters: The proportions of the handwriting sample are analysed. For example, is one letter unusually tall or short?
Pen Lifts and Separations: This is the way the person writes. Do they stop before writing a new letter, or do they connect the letters? People usually use the same pen lifts, and so a forgery may stand out if all the letters are separated when the real signature connects them.
Connecting Strokes: This is similar to pen lifts and separations. This analyses whether or not the capital letters are connected to lowercase letters and if words are connected.
Beginning and Ending Strokes: This looks at how the writer begins and ends their words. Do they end with a curl, and on an upstroke or a downstroke?
Unusual Letter Formation: This takes note of any peculiar, unique capital or lowercase letters. Does the writer add any extra curls or loops where the average author would not?
Shading or Pen Pressure: This analysis where the writer presses their writing utensil down the most, either on the upstroke or the downstroke. Where the most pressure is applied is where the script is thickest.
Slant: This looks at which way the letters tend to slant, either to the left, right, or no slant at all. The most common slant is to the right.
Baseline Habits: This is where the writer tends to write. It could be above the line, below the line, or on the line.
Flourishments and Embellishments: These are large loops and swirls in handwriting. The most common flourishment is on letters such as lowercase “G”, “J”, and “F”.
Diacritic Placement: This is the way the author crosses their t’s and dots their j’s and i’s.
It is believed by graphologists that each of these individual features have a significant meaning regarding the personality of the writer and can be used to identify specific personality traits. (Mishra, 2017)
Features and personality traits
The link between some of the features mention above the type of personalities which they represent are discussed below:
When a writer is presented with a piece of paper that has no pre-printed lines, the writer will adopt their own baseline corresponding to his or her own writing style. Baselines can assist in indicating the emotional control and reliability of the writer. Baselines may take the form of straight, ascending, descending, concave, suicidal, or erratic.
Letters and words maintain a level tone throughout with little variation between ascending and descending Indicates that the writer is disciplined, realistic, straight to the point and has stable outward behaviour.
Letters and words gradually gravitate upwards at an angle Indicates that the writer is optimistic, active, and has a healthy mental energy. Likely to be hopeful, cheerful, and excitable.
Letters and words begin in an upward motion gradually descend back down after peak has been reached Indicates enthusiasm that changes to lack of interest. Likely to be a quitter.
Letters and words gravitate downwards at an angle Indicates a pessimistic nature. May represent mental tiredness, depression or melancholy.
Letters and words appear to be straight and take a sudden fall towards the end. Notes written along this baseline are generally short Indicates suicidal feelings.
Letters and words fall gradually until a dip is reached then climb back to the original level they started at Indicates enthusiasm at the beginning which turns into lack of interest yet manages to finish on a positive note. May represent perseverance.
Erratic Letters and words vary between up and down and straight in an unusual manner Indicates an unstable nature. Individual may be moody, and can easily laugh or cry.
(Kedar and al., 2015)
A writer may form their letters at three different angles; 90 degree, below 90 degree or above 90 degree. Occasionally a writer may have a combination of all three degrees this is known as unstable or variant slant. (Kedar and al., 2015)
In terms of graphology dextrogyrous is used when referring to writing that is inclined towards the right and sinistrogyrous is used when referring to writing that is inclined towards the left.
• A vertical slant can be representative of independence, controlled emotions , stability, calmness and maturity. However it can also reflect coldness, laziness and little need for presence of others.
• A rightward slant can depict affection, passion,expressiveness and compliance. On the negative side it can depict jealousy, a need for hording affection and attention.
• A leftward slant often portrays selfishness, introversion, fear, doubt, and resistance to change. An individual with a leftward slop often shows a great ability for concentration.
SIZE OF LETTERS
The size of the letters in a passage of writing can vary between large, medium and small. The concentration of the writer can be expressed by the size the letters that they write. Large handwriting depicts a lack of concentration and could possibly represent an extroverted personality, examples of people who may have large handwriting onclude actors, politicians and sales personnel. A medium sized sample of handwriting represents the ability to maintain a steady level of concentration. Intelects such as scientists, authors and composers tend to have small writing. They are generally considered to be introverts and have a substantially high level of concentration.
Graphology takes into account not only the left margin that people have become accustomed to but also the right, upper and lower margins. The types of margins and what they represent are summed up below in table two.
Perhaps the most interesting of all the traits is the signature. The signature is believed to represent the character we display publicly. When a signature is left on a page the writer leaves behind a personal stamp, or a representation of who they are. A signature may be compared to a sample of ones own generic handwriting and a conclusion as to whether the character one portrays in a social community setting is a true reflection of ones own personal life. A representation of the different signature styles may be seen in table three.
Correlation between personality and the handwriting of an individual using the Eysenck test.
In recent years a study was carried out by Mr ashraf Karami in which he attempted yto validate the use of graphology. A group of 68 people were gathered at random. A sample of handwriting was obtained from each individual and analysed using some of the main features of handwriting as were already discussed previously. For the experiment he chose to focus on the following six elements:
1. The relationship between pen pressure on paper and personality
2. The relationship between the character size and personality
3. The relationship between distance (lines, words and letters) and personality
4. The relatioinship between stand lines and personality
5. The relationship between baseline and personality
6. The relationship between punctuation of punctual characters in the handwriting and personality.
Each individual was then subject to the Eysneck test. This test involves a quaestionnaire of a standard amount of questions (in this case ninety) in which participants must answer statements proposed to them on a scale of ‘very inaccurate’ to ‘very accurate’. The results of the ytest were then analysed so that the stability, instability, neurotiscism, discrete orientation, psychotherapy and individual introversion/extroversion were calculated and judged. The chi-square method was then implemented to examine the relationship between the individuals unique charactristics in writing and the results from the eyseneck questionnaire. The results of the experiment showed that the personality of an individual could not be judged based on just one trait of handwriting. However if several traits are cross referenced with one another on a larger sample size the results obtained may show a distinct correlation between handwriting and the personality of that person.
Kedar, S. and al., e. (2015). Personality Identification through Handwriting Analysis: A Review. International Journal of Advanced Research in Computer Science and Software Engineering, 5 (1), 548-556.
Mishra, A. (2017). Forensic Graphology: Assessment of Personality. Forensic Research and Criminology International Journal, 4 (1).
Srihari, S.N. and al., E. (2002). Individuality of Handwriting. Journal of Forensic Science, 47 (4).