Graphology is a human science that analyses the psychological structure of someone through their handwriting.
The written movement is under the direct influence of the central nervous system. Therefore the writer’s personality tendencies, both conscious and unconscious can be seen in the handwriting itself.
Graphology has existed for centuries, at least from the time of Aristocle. The first book appeared in 1622 in Italy. France has been the cradle of modern graphology, and was the birthplace of many of the great writers about graphology. It is also widely used in Germany, Switzerland and Italy where graphological professional institutes have been established for centuries. Graphology has adapted itself to developments in psychology, for example the use of 'depth psychology' theories to identify personality types. The link between the brain and hand movements has been described as 'brain writing' and recognised over the years in the field of psychology by the likes of Karl Jung, Gordon Allport and Anna Teillard.
The four main elements of handwriting
One of the starting points in analysing a sample of handwriting is how four elements of the writing work together:
Click on the 'Handwriting Samples' section to see how these four elements work differently with different writings.
Limitations of Graphology
Contrary to what most people think, one cannot determine the sex or age of an adult writer by viewing their writing. For example, some men have character traits normally associated with females, and vice versa.
Handwriting cannot reveal any physical features e.g. height/weight, someone's profession or set of skills, or financial status. One can see abilities and potential, but not behaviours. For example, one could say that a writer has aggressive tendencies, but not that they have committed crimes.
There is controversy over whether Graphology is 'valid' or not. Because Graphology is a human science that deals with personality, it is by definition impossible to measure objectively. There are no personality tests in the marketplace that have been scientifically proven to be 'valid'. Even the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (one of the most popular tests) has been called into question by noted and published psychologists
The reality is that 'personality' cannot be measured accurately, it can only be assessed. Even among the psychology profession, there no concrete agreement on the definition of personality. However, there is still value in assessing personality as long as its limitations are recognised.
Graphology has more recognition in Europe than it has in the UK. For example, in France, Graphology is used by up to 80% of organisations (Bruchon-Sweitzer & Ferrieux, 1991). In 2002, it received official accreditation from the French Standards Institute (AFNOR), as an equivalent tool to personality tests. In Italy, some university courses include components of graphology within them, and there are Masters Programs in Forensic Graphology and Family Graphology. Graphology is recognized by the Ministry of Education in Italy.
Graphology seems to be used by 3-10% in the UK, although figures vary wildly according to source.
The main body in Europe for Graphology is the ADEG (Association Déontologique Européene de Graphologie) recognised by the Common European Market in1977. The ADEG was set up in 1990 to harmonise and raise standards of graphology throughout Europe, as well as to promote a rigorous code of ethics.
The British Academy of Graphology offers the only UK qualification recognised by ADEG. The Academy was founded in 1985 by the Greek graphologist, Renna Nezos.
The British Academy of Graphology: information on how to learn Graphology and the history of Graphology.
International Graphology Colloquium (IGC): this non-profit organisation brings international graphology organisations together to harmonise teaching methods and approaches.