What is Graphology?

   The study of handwriting, graphology is used by some as a tool in the interpretation of personality. Although experiments have failed to demonstrate sufficient scientific basis for graphologists' claims, the idea that aspects of character and personality are displayed in the idiosyncratic loops, elisions, spacing and tilts that make up a person's script has a powerful logic for many people, including the managers of many large corporations who use graphologists to advise them on the weaknesses and strengths of prospective employees. Surely, believers feel, if a psychologist can deduce a subject's state of mind from his reaction to a set of images or inkblots, and if a child's sense of self can be determined from the kind of drawing he produces, then handwriting must be a useful, if not fool-proof, guide to character.
   One reason it is not is that it is a learned skill and one that is heavily weighted by cultural and national preferences, by continually changing aesthetic values and fashions in writing materials, as well as by the prejudices of the original instructor. Distinguishing what is individually significant, and therefore revealing, from what is simply acquired, habitual or imitative is difficult. Though the sort of correspondences that graphologists deal in—such as that widely spaced letters connote generosity; is that are only half crossed betray a procrastinator; carefully dotted is indicate a conservative, precise nature—are amusing, equally general conclusions can be arrived at by observing hairstyles or ways of dressing.
   One exception to graphology's limits is in detection of forgeries in signature. However muddled the message of handwriting, a person does develop a truly identifiable signature, and expert opinion on the legitimacy of what is so often an unintelligible scribble across a page is admissible in most courts of law.